Colorectal Cancer: FAP or HNPCC

Hereditary Colorectal Cancer.

Five percent of colon or rectal cancers are hereditary.  This means that we can identify the genes responsible for causing normal colon and rectal tissue to become malignant.  These genes run in families and those patients and family members with the genes can pass them on to relatives.

What can we do about this?  We can treat those patients that we know have polyps or cancers, and we can identify those with no signs of problems but who do have the gene that might cause problems.  By discussing your family history with your colon and rectal surgeon, also known as a proctologist, you can begin a lifetime surveillance program to catch problems before they begin.

Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer.  HNPCC.  Catch It Early.

There are two well known hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes.  The first is Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer, or HNPCC for short.  The second is Familial Adenomatous Polyposis , or FAP.

Colorectal cancers begin as polyps.  Polyps arise from normal colorectal mucosa or lining.  Most of the time, we can find no cause for the transformation of normal lining to cancerous lining.  However, in those with a genetic defect, we know why the lining turns malignant.  We can then begin early and frequent colon and rectal surveillance in order to identify the change and remove it.

Normally, as cells divide to form new cells, there are occasional errors, or mutations during cellular division.  The body has an ingenious system to repair these mistakes.  It is called the mismatch repair system.  It works well.  However, when there is a mutation in one of these mismatch repair genes, the repair system no longer functions.  As a result, the mistakes made during cell division multiply and eventually turn into cancer.

How do We Know Who Has These Bad Genes?

When a colorectal cancer is removed, the tissue is evaluated for certain markers of genetic mutations.  If these markers are found, the patient is tested for the genetic mutation through a simple blood test.  If the test is positive for the mutation, family members can then be tested.  Those testing positive are placed into a surveillance program for life.  Problems detected early are surgically removed.

Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates.

The board certified surgeons of Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates are well studied in the hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes.  The surgeons are also able to help with all diseases of the colon, rectum and anus.

By calling (310)273-2310, you can schedule a confidential consultation.  You will be able to learn about your risk factors which might predispose you to developing colorectal cancer.  Advance warning may be life saving.