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Semin Oncol. 2011 Aug;38(4):490-9. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2011.05.003.

Hereditary colon cancer syndromes.

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Gastrointestinal Unit, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Colon cancer is associated with a family history in up to 25% of cases. As many as 5% are associated with an established hereditary syndrome, demonstrating the profound influence of inheritable genetic mechanisms in the development of this disease. These syndromes confer a diverse spectrum of risk, age of presentation, endoscopic and histological findings, extracolonic manifestations, and modes of inheritance. As the molecular characteristics of these disorders become better described, enhanced genotype-phenotype correlations may offer a more targeted approach to diagnosis, screening, and surveillance. While the strategies for diagnosis and management of familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and Lynch syndrome are more established, the approach to newly recognized syndromes such as MUTYH-associated polyposis (MAP) and hyperplastic polyposis syndromes continues to evolve. Effective cancer prevention in affected individuals and at-risk family members first requires timely recognition of these hereditary colon cancer syndromes followed by integration of genetic testing and clinical examinations.

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