Colorectal cancer is the commonest cause of death due to malignancy in non-smokers in the western countries. The two main hereditary types of colorectal cancer are familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), constituting approximately 10% of all cases of colorectal cancer. The main aim of this review is to reappraise the current advances in the genetics and diagnosis of HNPCC.
A Medline search was carried out to identify papers published from 1970 to 1999 on HNPCC. Embase and Cochrane databases were also searched. Reference lists of retrieved articles were carefully searched for additional articles.
Recent technological advances in the genetics of HNPCC have refined the criteria for diagnosis and management of HNPCC, however current policies regarding the testing of pedigrees are not clearly established. We believe that with the rapid development in this area definitive clinical guidelines will need to be available in future for the management of HNPCC.