Gastroenterologist Questions Crohn's Disease

I was just diagnosed with Crohn's, but there is a history of bowel cancer in my family. What should I look out for?

My grandfather passed away from bowel cancer complications. I was just diagnosed with Crohn's disease 1 month ago. Should I think about further testing? When?

7 Answers

I suspect that your grandfather had what is called sporadic colon cancer, which is the cancer that develops from polyps and is more common at older age. This is the type of cancer that we screen people for beginning at age 50. Since a grandfather is a second-degree relative to you, that family history actually does not increase your risk for sporadic cancer, as long as there is no one else in the family (i.e., first-degree relatives) that developed colon cancer.

Crohn's disease however can increase your risk of colon cancer but only if you have significant colonic involvement. If only the small intersine, such as the ileum, is involved with inflammation, then your colon cancer risk would be considered average and screening starts at age 50. For significant Crohn's colitis inflammation, then more frequent screening by colonoscopy may be needed as the risk for colon cancer is related to the underlying inflammation and not to sporadic polyps.

Hope that helps.
Only first degree relatives matter as it relates to colon cancer. There is a slight increase in colon cancer risk with Crohn's disease so periodic colonoscopies may be necessary.
You should look for small bowel and colon cancer.
I would recommend that you undergo colonoscopy every 3 tp 5 years as ccancer screening.
Your gastroenterologist will guide you through the appropriate screening procedures. Screening for bowel cancer is done according to accepted and published guidelines.
Hi. You should follow up with your gastroenterologist who has diagnosed you. Yes, further testing is needed.
You may be at a little increased risk for colon cancer because of your family history in your grandfather. Depending on the situation, your father or mother who is the child of the grandfather is at least twice as likely as the general population for colon cancer.

If your Crohn's disease involves your colon, you are also at increased risk for colon cancer based on the Crohn's disease. Careful follow up with your gastroenterologist is essential both to manage your Crohn's but also for cancer risk stratification and appropriate screening.

Jon Bern
(M. Jonathan Bern MD)