Learn about your family risk


To learn about your familiar history of colorectal cancer is mere to try to understand how the disease affects your family, and if there could be any signs of a hereditary component in the disease history.

Because we are talking about genes, there are a few rules when analyzing your family history of cancer. 

They help you to understand what information, and relatives are relevant for your familial history of cancer:

Two family branches, two independent family histories

When you think about your family history of cancer, analyze the two sides of the family, in other words, the two sides not linked by blood, separately

In colorectal cancer hereditary syndromes, both genders can carry the mutation and develop the disease. Unless there is consanguinity, cases in the mother’s family (maternal side) are not connected to those in the father’s family (paternal side) because the two sides do not share genes. 

Close versus distant relatives

Start by collecting information on your closer relatives.

The most relevant relatives for your cancer history will be first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, and children).
Only after that, you should look into second-degree relatives (grandparents, uncles and aunts, grandchildren, nephews and nieces). 

Finally, look at those more distant family members.

By the end, you should be at the center of a family history tree, which unfolds around you.

Next generation

Do not forget to include information on your children and grandchildren.
They can provide valuable clues to your family history.

At the same time, your children and grandchildren have inherited your genes, so your history is essential for them and the way they manage their future health.

Blood/biological relatives

The genetic history of a family should only include biological relatives (blood relatives), as they are the only ones sharing our genes. 


  • Relatives by marriage (husband/wife), or adoptive children do not have a biological or genetic connection with the family (they are only relevant if they have a family history of related cancers, in which case there might be a shared environmental influence)
  • A half-sister/brother is not a 1st-degree relative, but a 2nd.

Important information to remember

It is time to register the vital data for your family history of the disease.

Make a list of:

  • Relatives affected by cancer (until the 3rd-degree)
  • Healthy relatives
  • Their current ages
  • In those individuals diagnosed with cancer, in which organ did the disease first start?
  • At what age were they diagnosed? Before the age of 50 is considered an early disease onset that suggests hereditary cancer
  • Is there any suspicion of hereditary syndromes in your family? 

Some criteria indicate high-risk of familial colorectal cancer - if any of these are present in your history, the hypothesis of a hereditary syndrome should be explored.

Collect your family data, and investigate that possibility using the interactive application to construct your familiar history .

The step after that is to see your family doctor to discuss the subject.

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Know… the interactive "familial history", allows the construction of a graphic with the history of colorectal cancer in your family. (see)
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