What are Hereditary Colorectal Cancer Syndromes?
In some cases, colon cancer can be hereditary. There are known gene mutations that can lead to hereditary colon cancer syndromes, the two most common being hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), also called Lynch syndrome, and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).
Lynch syndrome is the most common hereditary colon cancer syndrome, and most people with the condition will develop colon cancer before the age of 50. This syndrome also increases your risk of developing other cancers such as kidney, stomach and ovarian cancer.
In order to diagnose Lynch syndrome, doctors use a set of criteria called the Amsterdam criteria. You may also be diagnosed with the HNPCC gene mutation with genetic testing. If you have Lynch syndrome in your family, you should undergo routine cancer screening starting between the ages of 20-25.
Treatment for Lynch syndrome often consists of a colectomy to remove the colon. Regular screenings will still be needed to check for cancer in other areas of the body.
Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP)
FAP causes thousands of polyps to develop in the large intestine. Over time, these polyps can grow and develop into colorectal cancer. Individuals with this condition are also at an increased risk of developing cancer of the liver, stomach and small intestine.
In order to be diagnosed with FAP, an individual must have more than 100 colorectal polyps, which can be found through a colonoscopy procedure. There are often no symptoms associated with this condition, though when there are symptoms they may include abdominal pain, a change in your normal bowel habits or blood and mucus in the stool. Genetic testing is available to determine if you have the FAP gene mutation.
In order to treat FAP, surgery to remove the colon and rectum is the best way to prevent cancer.
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