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Welcome to "Colorectal Cancer (CRC): Is Your Patient at High Risk?" The goal of this program is to improve the primary care provider's ability to identify, evaluate, and manage patients at increased risk of CRC.

Role of Genetics in Colorectal Cancer

CRC is a common cancer that affects approximately 140,000 individuals annually in the United States. The average person has a 5% lifetime risk to develop CRC. As with all cancers, CRC develops due to a combination of genetic, biologic, and environment factors interacting together. Approximately 5 - 10% cases of CRC are due to a hereditary syndrome, where a single gene alteration conveys a high risk of CRC and sometimes other cancers. The program focuses on both patients with an increased (moderate) risk of CRC due to family history and personal history risk factors as well as patients with a high risk of CRC due to a hereditary CRC syndrome.

What to Expect from this Program

This program is divided into four modules: Assessing Risk, Genetic Testing, Risk Communication and Counseling, and Screening and Surveillance. Each module will take you through a series of patient scenarios that focus on the goals of that particular lesson. You will have access to point of care tools that will help you complete the activities and questions in the patient scenarios, and can also be downloaded and printed for use in your practice.

The program covers the most common hereditary CRC syndromes, Lynch syndrome and Familial Adenomatous Polyposis.  Working through short case studies, you will practice identifying, evaluating, and managing patients with hereditary CRC syndromes. The program also provides strategies for counseling patients before and after genetic testing, approaches to communicating risk, and tools to help you collaborate with a genetic or other specialist.

Course Learning Objectives

Risk Assessment

  1. Identify patients at moderately increased risk and modify screening.
  2. Identify patients at high risk (or potentially at high risk) and refer them to a genetics specialist for more detailed risk assessment and genetic counseling.
  3. Take and interpret a family history targeted toward cancer.

Genetic Testing

  1. Prioritize a differential diagnosis for hereditary CRC.
  2. Create an appropriate testing strategy.
  3. Communicate testing strategy effectively.
  4. Order appropriate genetic testing based on patient risk factors.
  5. Interpret genetic test results.
  6. Communicate results of genetic testing.

Risk Communication and Counseling

  1. Identify strategies for counseling patients both before and after genetic testing.
  2. Communicate CRC risk both using strategies that are tailored to and appropriate for each patient.
  3. Recognize when referral to a genetics specialist is appropriate.
  4. Become familiar with a typical genetic counseling session.

Screening and Surveillance

  1. Identify appropriate screening regimes for patients at average, increased, and high risk for CRC.


This program was funded by Myriad Genetics, VHA Contract #VA200P0034, AMA, and Humana.  


Interested in taking the program? The course is available in both an enduring format and a performance improvement format for CME credit. Individuals who do not plan to apply for CME should register for the enduring course. Click on the links to read more about each option and register.

Have other questions? Contact Kate Reed.