Ask our Expert - Mr Stephen Warren - Highgate Private Hospital
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Ask our Expert – Mr Stephen Warren

Discussing Bowel Cancer with expert General & Colorectal Surgeon

Mr Stephen Warren

Question

Dear Steve,

My 45-year-old sister has just had successful treatment for bowel cancer I have heard that it could be genetic and wondered if I need to have a check too?

Rachel

 

Answer

Dear Rachel,

I am so pleased that your sister’s treatment has been successful.

Bowel cancers start from benign, non-cancerous polyps within the lining of the colon or rectum, and rare multiple colorectal polyps are slightly more common in Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews.

With increasing age and poor diets (high in fat and red meat and low in dietary fibre) polyps are more common, but genetic inheritance also plays a role and your statistical risk of cancer increases with the more blood-related relatives, the closer those relatives are to you and their age of diagnosis of bowel cancer.

Basically the younger the age of your relative with bowel cancer the more likely there is to be a genetic link and sometimes there is an obvious genetic “pathway” of cancer passed through the generations. Identifying “at risk” individuals can prevent bowel cancers and removing any polyps by colonoscopy (a flexible telescopic examination of the bowel under sedation) then the recommendation would be to have a colonoscopy five years before the age of cancer diagnosis.

So in your case Rachel, we would recommend a colonoscopy when you are 40, or if you were to develop symptoms such as a change in bowel habit, rectal bleeding, weight loss or tiredness from anaemia.

Steve

 

Mr Stephen Warren is a Consultant General, Colorectal & Laparoscopic Surgeon at Highgate Private Hospital, specialising in bowel cancer, laparoscopic hernia and gallstones, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gastroscopy and colonoscopy, abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

A private initial consultation with Mr Stephen Warren at Highgate Private Hospital costs £250 if you are self-funding your treatment. The hospital is approved by all major health insurers, and so welcomes patients with private health insurance.

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