Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States. Because of a family cancer history, some people have a greater chance of developing this disease. About 10 percent of the population is thought to be at increased risk, and may benefit from earlier or more extensive screening strategies.
The High Risk Colorectal Cancer Clinic (HRCCC) at Northwestern offers genetic testing and specialized care to individuals of all ages at increased risk. The program is led by Barbara Jung, MD, a gastroenterologist with nationally recognized expertise in high risk colon cancer management.
"Being 'high risk' does not necessarily mean you will get the disease, but it is reason enough to take charge of your health and be proactive about screening," says Jung. "When detected in its earliest stage, colon cancer is largely curable, which is why it's important to know your risk so you can take preventative measures. We work with people to combat the disease before it begins through more frequent colonoscopies and strategies to improve overall health such as proper nutrition and exercise."
If you or a relative have had more than one cancer (including colorectal cancer) or pre-cancerous conditions such as polyps in the colon, colorectal cancer may run in your family. The HRCCC can help patients with known risk factors develop a personalized program to help lower those risks. The first step is a meeting with Dr. Jung to determine if further diagnostic, screening and/or treatment is advised.
You may then be referred to a genetic counselor to help you understand your family's history of cancer, and its significance. Other members of our multidisciplinary team include: medical and surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, clinical psychologists, nurses, nutritionists and a registry coordinator to develop a plan for surveillance and prevention to meet each patient's unique needs. Your plan may include:
All patients of the HRCCC may choose to participate in the Lurie Cancer Center Hereditary Colorectal Cancer Registry, and have access to its related educational materials and programs. The Registry is dedicated to advancing understanding of hereditary colorectal cancers by gathering information about patients and their family members who have either had colorectal cancer or are at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Cancer screening to help find cancer early or prevent it from occurring. We can help you determine which types of cancer screenings to consider, and how often you should be checked.
- Genetic testing that can help you understand your personal cancer risk, and may influence the choices you and your family make about cancer screenings.
- Clinical trials that examine the best ways to prevent and treat inherited colorectal cancer may be an option for you. Your healthcare team will discuss these studies with you.
The High Risk Colorectal Cancer Clinic is open to patients of all ages, as well as those with other hereditary syndromes that are known to increase colorectal cancer risk. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 312-926-5620 or visit cancer.northwestern.edu.