Should I Get the APC Gene Test for Colorectal Cancer?

This blood test can find a variation of the APC gene that makes some people more likely to develop a condition called FAP (familial adenomatous polyposis).

You might want to consider genetic counseling and testing if:

  • You’ve had more than 10 colon polyps
  • You’ve had colon polyps and other types of tumors
  • You’re of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and your family has a history of colon cancer or polyps that could become cancer.

What Do the Results Mean?

The APC variant genetic test doesn’t check to see if you have cancer or polyps. It just looks for a particular variation in the APC gene that could put you at risk.

Your doctor may mention “positive” or “negative” test results. Those words mean something different than you may think.

A “positive” test result means that you have that gene glitch. That makes you more likely to than someone who doesn’t have it to get FAP. But it doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely get it.

If you already have had colon cancer or polyps, it may affect how often you need to get checked.

A “negative” result means that you don’t have that gene variant. Keep in mind that the test doesn’t check for every gene problem that could be involved.

This test also doesn’t look at other gene problems that are linked to colon cancer that runs in families. It only looks for the APC gene variant.

You may want to talk with a genetic counselor about your results, family history, and lifestyle to better understand your risk.

What Should I Do if I Test Positive?

If you find out that you have the APC gene variant, your doctor will probably recommend that you get a colonoscopy every year. This is a test that lets your doctor check your colon for cancer or polyps that could become cancer.

If you’ve had colon cancer or polyps before, your doctor may talk to you about a colectomy, which is surgery to remove your colon.

Also, your relatives might want to consider genetic counseling and testing to see if they have the APC gene variant, too.


Where Do I Get this Gene Test?

You can get tested at most university and cancer centers in the U.S.

Does Insurance Pay for It?

Some insurance providers cover genetic counseling and genetic testing. Others don’t. Check with your provider about coverage before you get the test.

Could I Be Denied Health Insurance Coverage Based on the Results?

No. That’s against the law.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 prevents insurance companies from denying health insurance based on genetic information. Insurers also can’t use genetic information to show that you had a health condition before you applied for coverage. Many states have also passed laws or have legislation pending to address insurance concerns.

Are There Other Genetic Tests for Colorectal Cancer?

Yes. Other genetic tests check on certain genes linked to Lynch syndrome, which is also called HNPCC or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer. Most people who have this condition are younger than 50 or have had other types of cancer, including uterine cancer.

If you find out that you have a variation in the MUTYH gene, you may also be more likely to develop colon polyps and colon cancer.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on November 04, 2018



American Cancer Society. 

News release, CDC.

American College of Surgeons: “Colectomy.”

National Cancer Institute: “Genetic Testing for Hereditary Cancer Syndromes.”

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