[Genetics of colorectal cancer. I. Non-polyposis and polyposis forms of hereditary colorectal cancer].Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 1999 Jun 05; 143(23):1201-6.NT
About 5% of colorectal cancer cases are due to an autosomal dominant genetic predisposition with high penetrance. In this condition, the patient is carrier of a pathogenic gene mutation present in all body cells which can be transmitted to descendants, a so-called germ line mutation. The mutation is usually present in a tumour suppressor gene. Three subgroups of hereditary colorectal cancer can be distinguished on the basis of the clinical characteristics: (a) syndromes without polyposis (mostly hereditary non-polyposis colorectal carcinoma; HNPCC), (b) syndromes with adenomatous polyposis (mostly familial adenomatous polyposis; FAP) and (c) syndromes with hamartomatous polyposis. Recently, the main gene defects which underlie these syndromes were identified. Consequently, it is possible in approximately half the families with HNPCC or FAP in patients with colorectal cancer to demonstrate the causative gene defect and subsequently, by blood testing of healthy relatives to determine who is and is not a carrier of this hereditary condition. Thus, preventive measures can be directed toward family members with a demonstrable high risk of large bowel cancer.