Genetic Counseling for Hereditary Colon Cancer Syndromes

Genetic Counseling for Hereditary Colon Cancer Syndromes

Development of this resource was generously supported by Myriad Genetics. 

Why work with a genetic counselor?


Genetic counselors are experts at explaining hereditary conditions in ways that people without a background in medicine, science or genetics can easily understand. They can help you access genetic information and technology in the most practical and useful ways. They can also navigate the process of reaching a genetic diagnosis, including genetic testing.


For people seeking hereditary cancer risk evaluation, these are some common questions that are addressed in genetic counseling:


“I have a family history of cancer. What does this mean for me?


"I’ve had cancer. What does that mean for my children? / What does this mean about future children?"


“My partner and I are planning a pregnancy. What types of testing are available to us?”


“I have a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome and want to learn whether I could pass it to my children.”


“Can genetic testing be useful for me or my family?”


“I have a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome. What can I do to be proactive with my health care?” Could I pass it to my children.”


“How do I talk to my relatives, or my doctors, about my hereditary condition?”



About Genetic/Hereditary Colon Cancer Syndromes


Hereditary colon cancer syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis, MUYTH-associated polyposis, and lynch syndrome, are caused by changes to specific genes in our bodies. Genes are like a set of instructions; they provide the information necessary for cells to divide, proteins to be produced, and our bodies to grow and heal itself.


When a gene is changed, this is called a mutation. People born with a mutation in one of the hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome genes are at increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. Your specific cancer risk depends on your particular hereditary colon cancer syndrome. Reducing those cancer risks requires:


  • Diagnosing the hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome,


  • Understanding the cancer risks, and


  • Understanding the necessary screening to reduce those risks.


All of this can be very complicated. Genetic counselors can help people affected, or potentially affected, by the conditions reduce their cancer risk.




1. What happens during a genetic counseling appointmentWill insurance cover the cost?

2. What is genetic testing? Do I need it?

3. If my doctor doesn't work with a genetic counselor, how can I get an appointment?

4. What's the best way to share my diagnosis with my relatives?

5. What advice do others have for discussing hereditary colon cancer with children?




Information used in the development of this page was sourced from the NSGC and KinTalk, a service of the University of California, San Francisco and reviewed by the Foundation's Patient Education Committee.