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March 14, 2017
Kevin Myers was born with a genetic predisposition to colon cancer. His condition, Familial Adenomatous Polyposis or FAP, is one of a number of inherited colon cancer syndromes, including Lynch Syndrome and MYH-associated polyposis (MAP).
"About 3 percent of colon cancers are associated with these genetic syndromes," explains Elena Stoffel, M.D., director of the U-M Cancer Genetics Clinic. "In patients with FAP, polyps develop in the colon as soon as early adolescence, numbering in the hundreds or even thousands. Without treatment, their risk of developing cancer exceeds 90 percent."
The alternative for most patients is just as overwhelming: the removal of the colon and life with an ostomy pouch. Myers' colon was removed at age 14. Learning to live with an ileostomy made Myers' youth especially tough, but he persevered through high school, college and graduate school, where he trained in social work and counseling, and where he met and married Brenda, his wife of 33 years.