The Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk Assessment Program is dedicated to
helping people prevent gastrointestinal cancers by understanding their
personal and family risk and learning ways to reduce it.
Gastrointestinal cancers include tumors affecting any of the following:
Colon (large intestine or bowel)
Our team helps participants develop a personal screening plan to
detect cancer at the earliest, most treatable stage and to detect
conditions such as polyps—small, noncancerous growths in the colon
or rectum. If left untreated, some polyps may become cancerous tumors.
Periodic screening can detect polyps, and most are easily removed during
a diagnostic procedure called a colonoscopy.
The Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk Assessment Program is designed for
people at high risk of colon or other gastrointestinal cancers because
of personal or family medical history.
Gastrointestinal cancers sometimes run in families. People whose close
relatives have had colorectal cancer or colon polyps may have inherited
a genetic variation that increases their risk of developing
gastrointestinal cancers. Scientists are working to understand the genes
involved in this hereditary susceptibility.
Other factors that increase a person's risk of gastrointestinal cancer
include a personal history of this cancer, gastrointestinal polyps
and/or inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's
Being at risk does not mean that you will definitely develop cancer.
Rather, your chances of developing a cancer are greater than those of
someone who has no personal or family history of the diseases or other
special risk factors. You may be eligible for the Gastrointestinal
Cancer Risk Assessment Program if you are at least 18 years old and have
one of the following risk factors:
At least one first-degree family member (parent, brother, sister
or child) who has had gastrointestinal cancer
A personal history of gastrointestinal cancer
A personal history of colon or rectal polyps
Benefits of Participation
Participants in the Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk Assessment Program
receive education, genetic counseling and recommendations for screening.
When you enroll, you will receive:
An information session with a health educator who will explain
the known and suspected risk factors for gastrointestinal cancer
A detailed evaluation of your family history by a genetic
An explanation of screening guidelines and prevention options
A personal screening plan with recommendations tailored to
Family and Genetic Counseling
Having a family history of gastrointestinal cancer can
increase your risk of developing cancers of the gastrointestinal
tract. More than 25 percent of colon and rectal cancers may result from
genetic factors passed from one generation to the next. Other risk
factors involve personal lifestyle, such as a diet high in animal fat.
The counseling team will explain the various risk factors, how they
might affect you and what you can do to reduce your risk. Depending on
your family history, counseling may include recommendations for
other family members, such as at what age they should start
being screened for gastrointestinal cancers.
The genetic counselor or health educator will discuss current research
to identify the genes involved in hereditary risks and ways eligible
clients may participate in such research. Some genes involved in cancer
of the colon and rectum have already been identified. For those
eligible, genetic testing is available.
Recommendations for colon cancer screening may include sigmoidoscopy or
colonoscopy. Both procedures use a flexible tube that lets the physician
view the inside of the colon. The instrument transmits images of the
colon to a video monitor in the exam room, permitting the most precise
diagnosis and location of any polyps or cancers.
You may choose to have screening here or by your own gastroenterologist.
Gastrointestinal Cancer Facts
Colorectal, stomach (also called gastric) and pancreatic cancers are
among the most common gastrointestinal cancers among Americans.
Colorectal cancer: More than 148,000 Americans a year
learn they have cancer of the colon or rectum. These cancers affect men
and women equally. The third most common cancer in both men and women in
this country, colorectal cancer causes more than 56,000 deaths a year.
It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, after lung cancer. With
early detection, however, the five-year survival rate for colon cancer
is more than 90 percent.
Stomach (gastric) cancer: Each year almost 22,000
Americans are diagnosed with stomach cancer, and more than 12,000 die of
this disease annually. Cigarette smoking is the major risk factor for
stomach cancer. As with most adult cancers, the risk increases with
Pancreatic cancer: Approximately 30,000 Americans a
year develop pancreatic cancer, and almost as many die of it. Cigarette
smoking is the major risk factor for pancreatic cancers. As with
most adult cancers, the risk increases with age.
Gastrointestinal cancers often produce few or no symptoms until late
stages. Regular checkups are important. These cancers are curable if
For colorectal cancer, symptoms may include, but are not limited to:
Change in bowel habits
Symptoms of pancreatic or stomach cancer may include:
For more information on the Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk Assessment
Program, or to schedule an appointment, please call 484-565-1600.
Cancer Center of Paoli Hospital
New Appointments 1.866.CALL.MLH or 484.580.1000
Paoli Hospital Cancer Center
255 West Lancaster Avenue
Paoli, PA 19301
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.