The purpose of this study is to examine how people with a family history of colon cancer and other related cancers respond to recommendations for cancer screening after genetic counseling. Investigators hope to learn more about whether people with a personal and/or family history of colorectal cancer and other cancers follow cancer screening recommendations, and to determine the effect of these screening recommendations on their quality of life.
Some families have a pattern of cancers called hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer, or HNPCC. The HNPCC pattern means that several people on the same side of the family have had colon, endometrial, ovarian, or certain other cancers, most often occurring in the abdomen. People with an HNPCC pattern of cancer in their family receive recommendations to have screening tests for several kinds of cancer in addition to colon cancer. People without the HNPCC pattern usually receive fewer screening recommendations. Genetic counseling (and testing, if a person chooses to be tested) helps determine whether an individual has an HNPCC pattern in his or her family. As part of the study, investigators will compare the experiences of people with and without HNPCC.
The study consists of a written questionnaire at the time of genetic counseling, a telephone interview six months later, and then yearly questionnaires. Questions will cover thoughts and feelings about being at risk for colon cancer, cancer screening practices, and general quality of life. The questionnaires and interview will be confidential. The study is a survey only, and does not include any kind of counseling or medical treatment.