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Semin Liver Dis. 2005 Nov;25(4):402-10.

Screening for HFE and iron overload.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Fremantle Hospital, Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia.


Type 1 hereditary hemochromatosis is a common disorder of iron overload occurring in individuals homozygous for the C282Y HFE gene mutation. It can be a progressive and fatal condition. Early detection and phlebotomy prior to the onset of cirrhosis can reduce morbidity and normalize life expectancy. It is readily identified through biochemical testing for iron overload using serum transferrin saturation and genetic testing for C282Y homozygosity. General population screening has been waived in preference to targeting high-risk groups such as first-degree relatives of affected individuals and those with clinical features suggestive of iron loading. This screening strategy is likely to continue until uncertainties regarding the natural history of the disease, age-related penetrance, and management of asymptomatic individuals are clarified. Potential ethical, legal, and psychosocial issues arising through application of genetic screening programs also must be resolved prior to implementation of general population screening programs.

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