Family Syndromes That Cause Colon Cancer

Heredity can be a risk for colon cancer, and there are several hereditary syndromes that increase risk for colon cancer. Learn about the family syndromes in this video from Dr. George P. Kim.

George P. Kim, MD: So we know that there are very specific hereditary syndromes related to risks of colon cancer. Those are typically familial adenomatous polyposis or FAP. Now these are patients that early on at adolescence develop 100 and 1000s of polyps and these are readily detected and this drives the decision to then visit with a genetic counsellor who looks for the specific genes can be mutated.

The second common hereditary syndrome is hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer or HNPCC or Lynch syndrome. Now this is a cancer that is not associated with polyps. The patients unfortunately have risk of developing cancer before the age of 50. There are other cancers associated with this syndrome and so that would be the second one. There are others such as juvenile polyposis, Peutz-Jeghers. There are more recently identified MUTYH gene which is mutated, that’s another family syndrome.

So these are specific syndromes that are associated with cancers that should then be followed in other family members in future patients and screening should be employed in these individuals. This is important to distinguish from the sporadic or the more everyday risk that one sees in families and this involves for example a family member who unfortunately developed colon cancer before the age of 60, first degree relative that does raise an individual’s risk. Similarly in second degree relatives or grandparents, cousins, if two individuals develop colon cancer, that also might raise a given patient’s risk. So yes, there are hereditary syndromes. There are very specific ones, but there is also more common average risk that is associated with family members that somehow or at sometime develop colon cancer.

George P. Kim, MD is an Assistant Professor of Oncology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and is a consultant in the Department of Hematology and Oncology, Mayo Clinic Jacksonville.

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This information should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use the information provided on this site solely at your own risk.  If you have any concerns about your health, please consult with a physician.


This information should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use the information provided on this site solely at your own risk. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult with a physician.

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