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Ann Oncol. 2001 Jun;12(6):813-8.

Familial microsatellite-stable non-polyposis colorectal cancer: incidence and characteristics in a clinic-based population.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Catholic University School of Medicine A. Gemelli, Rome, Italy.



About 15%-20% of colorectal cancers (CRCs) are familial. While a fraction of these arise in the context of hereditary syndromes, the causes underlying the majority of familial CRCs are not yet understood.


Family history of cancer, clinical characteristics, and microsatellite instability (MSI) in a series of 100 consecutive CRC patients were evaluated.


Eighteen patients had a positive family history of CRC in a first-degree relative. Of these, two had a clinical diagnosis of familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), and three were diagnosed with hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) following results of MSI analysis. A diagnosis of HNPCC was also established in a fourth patient with early onset CRC, who had a second-degree relative with CRC, and whose tumor was positive for MSI. The remaining 13 familial CRCs did not show MSI in tumor DNA. The mean age at tumor diagnosis in patients with familial microsatellite-stable (MSS) CRC was higher than in HNPCC and FAP patients and similar to that recorded in sporadic cases. The incidence of second primary malignancies was significantly higher in familial MSS CRC probands (n = 4) compared to patients who did not have a diagnosis of FAP or HNPCC and did not have first-degree relatives affected with CRC (n = 6, in a total of 81 probands with these characteristics).


These results define the existence of a subset of familial CRCs characterized by relatively late age at onset, high incidence of second primary tumors, and absence of MSI in tumor DNA.

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