"It's therefore extremely important for people with knowledge of bowel cancer in the family to share that information."
"Knowledge is power. People who understand they may be at an increased risk of bowel cancer can then choose appropriate screening whether that's earlier, more frequent or more intensive screening."
Bowel Cancer Australia is asking families who get together this weekend for a winter version of Christmas dinner to take a few minutes to discuss their health risks.
While bowel cancer isn't a normal dinner table topic, it's worth knowing whether mum, granddad or Uncle Ron had bowel cancer or numerous bowel polyps especially at an early age.
"Some people have specific genetic mutations that significantly increase their risk of bowel cancer. While these mutations are rare, the consequences are dramatic and screening for affected families sometimes starts in childhood," Ms Annear said.
The two most common inherited syndromes linked to bowel cancer include familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC; also known as Lynch syndrome).
Affected individuals have a 50 per cent chance of passing the syndrome onto their children.
"Even for people without one of these known mutations, a family history of bowel cancer can more than double your personal risk," she said.
For more information of family history risk visit Bowel Cancer Australia: Family History.
For further details and to get involved this July visit Bowel Cancer Australia's Christmas in July.