Summer family reunions are a time to strengthen bonds with those we love most. They are a time to celebrate new additions, rejoice in personal accomplishments, laugh at favorite stories, and share treasured memories. Family reunions provide us with a unique opportunity to learn more about our heritage and how it plays a part in who we are today, and that includes discussing your family’s health history.
Colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States. While the majority of colon cancers occur independently, it is estimated the five to 10 percent of colon cancers are hereditary. Having a family history of adenomatous polyps or colon cancer increases your risk of colon cancer and makes you a candidate for earlier screening, so it is crucial to know whether these conditions run in your family (Source: StopColonCancerNow).
This summer, as you gather with your loved ones to hear Grandma tell the story about her wedding day or listen to Great Uncle Joe tell his favorite corny jokes, why not start a conversation that will benefit your whole family? Ask your grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents and cousins whether they know of any health conditions, such as colon cancer, which run in your family. While this might seem a little awkward at first, you will likely find that your relatives are more than happy to share this information. Remember, this is a topic that affects all of you, and everyone will benefit from this conversation.
This is also a great opportunity to talk to your older relatives about the importance of routine colon cancer screening. Men and women of average risk should begin colonoscopy screenings by the age of 50 and every 10 years thereafter. Let your loved ones know that their health is important to you, and encourage them to stay current with these screenings. You can even offer to help them find a doctor, schedule an appointment, or be their designated driver on exam day.
Gathering with family and loved ones is a privilege. Make sure you all can enjoy this privilege for years to come by discussing your family’s health history and committing to lifesaving colon cancer screenings. It is a gift you can all share together, regardless of how far apart life takes you.