Genetic Considerations

About 60% of colorectal cancers are sporadic; another 30% clearly have genetic contributions. Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) accounts for 5% to 10% of colorectal cancer cases overall. Families with HNPCC have a lifetime risk of getting colorectal cancer between 70% and 90%, which is several times the risk in the general population. Mutations in several genes have been linked to HNPCC including MLH1, MSH2, and MSH6, for which genetic testing is available. Colon cancer is also a feature of familial polyposis coli.

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