Hereditary Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer represents about 15 percent of all cancers. Of these, 93 to 95 percent are sporadic, meaning they occur by chance. The remaining 5 to 7 percent are hereditary colorectal cancers and are related to an inherited genetic mutation that can be passed through the family.

The most common hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes are Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer Syndrome (HNPCC) and Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP).

The five major genes responsible for HNPCC are MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, PMS1 and TGFB R2. The gene responsible for FAP is the APC gene.

These genes are involved in repairing mistakes in DNA, our genetic material. If you have inherited one of these gene changes, your body is unable to properly repair DNA that has become damaged. As a result, you will have an increased lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer as well as other cancers.

Akron Children's Hereditary Cancer Program offers genetic testing for changes in the HNPCC and FAP genes, called susceptibility testing.

If testing identifies a gene change, it does not mean the person tested has cancer or will get it. It means the individual has inherited an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to the general population.

Knowing this result may enable a more active role in cancer screening and prevention options. It may also tell us who is not at increased risk.

Risk Factors

An Akron Children's genetic counselor can help you assess your risk, as well as help you through your decision to undergo genetic testing for hereditary colorectal cancer.

You may be at risk if you have a personal or family history (on the mother's or father's side) of the following:

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