Familial colorectal cancer risk assessment needs improvement for more effective cancer prevention in relatives

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Twelve to thirty % of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients and relatives with an increased familial risk of CRC are referred for preventive measures. New guidelines recommend genetic counselling for high-risk families and surveillance colonoscopy for moderate-risk families. Assessment of familial risk of CRC and referral rates for these preventive measures were determined 1 year after the introduction of new guidelines.


Assessment of familial risk of CRC and referral for preventive measures were measured in clinical practice among 358 patients with CRC in 18 hospitals using medical records and questionnaires. Additionally, a knowledge survey was performed among 312 clinicians.


Sixty-seven % of patients with an increased familial risk (n=>65/97) were referred for preventive measures, as were 23% (61/261) of low-risk patients. The uptake of genetic counselling in high-risk families was 33% (12/36). The uptake of surveillance colonoscopy in moderate-risk families was 34% (21/61). In the knowledge survey clinicians correctly determined familial risk in 55% and preventive measures in 65% of cases.


Currently 67% of individuals with an increased familial risk of CRC were referred for preventive measures. Only one-third were referred in accordance with guidelines.

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