No mother wants to hear the words â€œyour child has cancer.â€ If there were a way to detect whether your unborn child had an increased risk of developing cancer, would you want to know? Presumably the answer is yes.
Although there are many causes of cancer, as well as tests that can help determine the risk factor, one important test that many parents may not know about is a screening for FAP, or familial adenomatous polyposis. This genetic condition affects the colon and stems from an inherited gene mutation. The gene, known as APC, helps with the regulation of cell growth. It, therefore, makes sense that an abnormality in this type of gene can result in cancer, which is an uncontrollable growth of cells. If untreated, this disease can actually decrease an individualâ€™s life span to only 42 years old.
So, we know FAP is genetic, and that it can lead to cancer, but what causes it? Unfortunately, that is yet to be determined. According to Professor Jonathan Rhodes, a gastroenterologist at the University of Liverpool, 1 in every 10,000 men and women are affected, and 1/3 of the cases are new mutations, meaning no previous family history is necessary to develop FAP. Â The best thing you can do is to have a colonoscopy as well as test specifically for FAP. This can help predict whether your child may be at risk.
If you or your husband tests positive for FAP, there is a 50% chance that your unborn child will have the same mutant gene.
Aside from passing on FAP, another result is the development of hepatoblastoma, which is a rare childhood liver cancer that affects approximately 11.2 children for every one million worldwide. Â According to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, 8 of the 93 patients in the study had family histories suggestive of FAP. In 1987, two identical male twins were simultaneously diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, which stemmed out of FAP from the mother.
What can you take away from this? In the rare case that you or your husband are found to be positive with FAP, your child should have their colon screened annually from the age of 10 until 35, and if FAP is confirmed, then the only option is to remove the colon.
Hopefully being diagnosed with FAP will not result in your child having hepatoblastoma, but if it does, there are many resources for children and families diagnosed with that rare childhood cancer.