Hereditary gastrointestinal polyposis: Diagnosis, genetic test and risk assessment


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second cause of cancer deaths, with over 1 million new cases estimated every year. Familial adenomatous polyposis, MUTYH-associated polyposis and hamartomatous polyposis are inherited syndromes that account for 2%-5% of all colon cancer. The mutated genes responsible for the vast majority of these disorders, are now known (MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, PMS2, APC, MYH, LKB1, SMAD4, BMPR1A, and PTEN) and specific mutations have been identified. Molecular caracterization of inherited CRCs allows pre-symptomatic diagnosis identifying at-risk individuals and improving cancer surveillance. Adenomatous polyposis includes familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), attenuated FAP (AFAP), and MUTYH-associated polyposis (MAP). Hamartomatous polyposis comprises Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS), juvenile polyposis syndrome (JPS) and “PTEN hamartoma tumour syndrome” (PHTS). MAP is an autosomal recessive condition, while all other disorders are inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. Differential dyagnosis could be very difficult between syndromes because of their phenotypic variability. Attenuated FAP, MAP and Lynch syndrome could be all associated with fewer numbers of adenomas (3-10 polyps), nevertheless, each syndrome has distinct cancer risks, characteristic clinical features, and separate genetic etiologies. Thus, differential diagnosis is essential for correct management of the specific disease. In our laboratory we set up a methodology for genetic tests of the colorectal polyposis syndrome. In these reviews we summarize the literature data and our experience about diagnosis, genetic tests and cancer risk assesment associated with colorectal polyposis. According to literature data, in our experience, there is a portion of analyzing patients that remain without identified mutation, after molecular screening of the specific gene involved in the pathogenesis of the disease. Since the sensibility of used techniques, such as DHPLC, MLPA and sequencing, is now very high, we suggest that a different approach to molecular diagnosis of polyposis syndromes is necessary. In our laboratory, we are now planning to set up analysis of a larger pannel of genes that could be involved in colorectal poliposis syndromes, using a next generation sequencing techniques. In our opinion, a better characterization of molecular basis of the polyposis syndromes will allow a more efficient cancer prevention.

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Rosa, M. , Duraturo, F. , Liccardo, R. and Izzo, P. (2013) Hereditary gastrointestinal polyposis: Diagnosis, genetic test and risk assessment. Open Journal of Genetics, 3, 50-58. doi: 10.4236/ojgen.2013.32A3008.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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