LANSING, Mich. – As part of efforts to increase awareness and reduce the incidence of colon cancer among Michigan residents, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is recognizing June 11-17, 2017 as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis Awareness Week.
Approximately 1,400 people in Michigan have Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP), but many are not aware that they have the condition. FAP symptoms often begin as non-cancerous growths or polyps in the colon, sometimes numbering in the thousands and developing as early as the teenage years. These polyps become malignant, leading to colon cancer at much younger ages than in the general population.
FAP also increases the risk of developing cancers of the small intestine, liver, stomach, thyroid and brain. Other non-cancerous symptoms may result from FAP such as osteomas (bone growths), lipomas (fat-filled skin sacs) or fibromas (growths above the skin). FAP can be passed on from a parent to a child, but it can also occur in people with no family history of the condition. It is usually diagnosed through colonoscopy or genetic testing.
“FAP is a serious condition that puts lives at risk if undetected. However, appropriate screening and health management can nearly greatly reduce the risk of colon cancer due to FAP,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive of MDHHS. “We encourage everyone to talk to their health care provider about their family history. A physician will help determine the appropriate recommendations for genetic counseling and testing for FAP, and/or colonoscopy to check for polyps in the colon.”
Kevin Myers, a Michigan resident who has been diagnosed with FAP, is one of the coordinators of a Lynch Syndrome/FAP support group that meets monthly in Ann Arbor. “It is vitally important to be screened as early as possible – ideally by age 11-13, and possibly earlier,” said Myers. “This can prevent having to deal with many painful symptoms later on. Additionally, finding an FAP-knowledgeable doctor will ensure consistent health care. Genetic counseling can be very beneficial with identifying a need for early screening. One can live a very full, long, and active life with FAP. My father is an excellent example of that at nearly 91 years of age.”
MDHHS is working with the Michigan Cancer Genetics Alliance, and patient support groups such as the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor and Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, to raise awareness of FAP and other hereditary cancer conditions. Funding for this program is made possible in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To learn more about hereditary cancers, visit: www.michigan.gov/hereditarycancer. MCGA maintains a directory of cancer genetic counseling clinics in Michigan at: https://migrc.org/Library/MCGA/MCGADirectory.html.