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Semin Oncol. 2007 Oct;34(5):428-34.

Cowden syndrome.

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Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare, Genomic Medicine Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.


Cowden syndrome (CS), due to germline mutations of the PTEN tumor-suppressor gene, is an often overlooked cancer predisposition syndrome associated with an increased risk of breast, thyroid, and endometrial cancers, as well as benign manifestations. Germline PTEN mutations also are associated with syndromes that have not been historically connected to an increase in risk for malignancy. These disorders include Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome (BRRS), Proteus syndrome (PS), and Proteus-like syndrome (PSL). These syndromes can be described under the umbrella of PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome (PHTS). As one would expect in allelic disorders, there is broad phenotypic overlap in the PHTS; however, the syndromes are clinically distinct. As additional information is discovered about new syndromes of cancer predisposition and their concordant genes, oncologists and allied healthcare providers must maintain vigilance to appropriately identify, and screen, individuals at an increased risk. Although CS is the only PHTS with a clearly documented predisposition to malignancies, pending further data, for precautionary reasons all individuals with a germline PTEN mutation are recommended to follow the cancer surveillance recommendations for CS.

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