When should preventive colon checkups begin for someone with a family history of cancer?

A fellow caregiver asked...

They detected my dad's colon cancer at age 45 in the year 2002 at stage 4. He passed away at age of 49 in the year 2006. When should I begin to get my colon checked?

Expert Answer

Bonnie Bajorek Daneker is author and creator of the The Compassionate Caregiver's Series, which includes "The Compassionate Caregiver's Guide to Caring for Someone with Cancer," "The Journey of Grief," "Handbook on Hospice and Palliative Care," and other titles on cancer diagnosis and end of life. She speaks regularly at cancer research and support functions, including PANCAN and Cancer Survivor's Network. She is a former member of the Executive Committee of the CSN at St. Joseph's Hospital of Atlanta and the Georgia Chapter of the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

Sorry to hear about the loss of your father. Generally, doctors recommend that you start colon checkups ten years prior to the diagnosis age of the family member; in your case, age 35. However, if you have other incidence of cancer or other family members that have been diagnosed, you may want to be checked earlier. Remember, the earlier any malady is found, the better chance there is of fighting it.