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Abstract

The hereditary colonic cancer syndrome without polyposis, hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), is usually divided into 2 main categories: hereditary site-specific colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome I) and colorectal cancer in association with other forms of cancer (Lynch syndrome II). One problem associated with Lynch II is the uncertainty as to which types of cancer form part of the hereditary tumour spectrum. The present study was performed to obtain more information about the tumour spectrum of HNPCC. In the 24 HNPCC families studied, 104 patients had colorectal cancer (mean age at diagnosis: 46 years) and in 4 of the families this was the only type of cancer to occur. Sixty-five extra-colonic tumours were diagnosed in 20 families. Endometrial carcinoma was found in 16 patients belonging to 12 families. Cancer of the stomach occurred in 10 patients representing 5 families, and mainly in the older generations. Urinary-tract tumours were found in 8 patients from 4 families. Second primary tumours were diagnosed in 13 of the 16 patients with endometrial cancer, in 4 of the 10 patients with stomach cancer and in 7 of the 8 patients with a urinary-tract tumour. Many other types of carcinoma were found as well, but less frequently. In our families, the trait appears to be transmitted by patients with cancer of the stomach, endometrium or urinary tract, because some of their children have developed colorectal cancer. The findings suggest that, in these 24 HNPCC families, carcinomas of the endometrium, stomach and urinary tract belong to the hereditary tumour spectrum. Definite assignment of tumours to this spectrum will become possible only after a sensitive and specific biomarker becomes available. The screening programme should depend on which and how many extra-colonic tumours occur in a family.