Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) is an inherited genetic condition associated with microsatellite instability; it accounts for around 5 per cent of all cases of colorectal cancer. This review examines recent data on management strategies for this condition.
A Medline-based literature search was performed using the keywords ‘HNPCC’ and ‘microsatellite instability’. Additional original papers were obtained from citations in articles identified by the initial search.
Results and conclusion:
The Amsterdam criteria identify patients in whom the presence of an inherited mutation should be investigated. Those with a mutation should be offered counselling and screening. The role of prophylactic surgery has been superseded by regular colonoscopy, which dramatically reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. Screening for extracolonic malignancy is also advocated, but the benefits are uncertain. Chemoprevention may be of value in lowering the incidence of bowel cancer in affected patients, but further studies are required. © 2002 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd