Knowing your family medical history can be live-saving. One middle
"My youngest daughter who was 21 at the time had polyps. They found about 3 polyps. One was about 10 times larger than anything that my twenty three year old daughter had. Eventually she had to have her colon removed as well, but she had no symptoms at all," said Katrina Martin from
Martin remembers the shock of finding out her 23-year-old daughter Laura was having severe colon and rectal problems. Laura's symptoms may have saved her sister’s life because Rebecca was symptom free at the time her screening showed polyps growing inside of her.
"The girls were in their twenties and so there really isn't a screening for someone in their twenties unless you have a family history or unless you're having problems and at the time we had no idea we had a family history of this disorder," said Martin.
Colorectal surgeon, Doug Brewer, says the whether your a physician or patient, family history and genetics information are more important than ever in the medical field.
"If you see that there is cancer that involves more than one generation or if you see cancers that are occurring in people that are young, below 50 in general. It increases the likelihood that there is a genetic component running through that family and they just need to go talk to their doctor about that," said Brewer.
After their daughters health problems surfaced, Katrina Martin and her husband wanted more background information on why their daughters had this disease so they went to the Huntsman Cancer Institute and received genetic testing. The results were shocking, both of them have Lynch Syndrome which can cause a number of different cancers and the condition passed down to their daughters.
"Unfortunately we didn't know this was in our family but for generations to come we're aware of it now. You need to educate yourself. You need to go out once you've been told that this may be something in your life then go out and educate yourself and identify some resources," said Martin.
Genetic testing can be as easy as a mouth swab or a blood sample. Dr. Brewer said a common misconception with genetic testing is that a person would be fired from their job or lose their health care. Brewer says that federal and state laws prohibit these actions that have genetic discrimination.