Who Should Be Sent for Genetic Testing in Hereditary Colorectal Cancer Syndromes?

Baylor University, Waco, Texas, United States
Journal of Clinical Oncology (Impact Factor: 18.43). 09/2007; 25(23):3534-42. DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2006.10.3119
Source: PubMed


Genetic testing is being adopted increasingly to identify individuals with germline mutations that predispose to hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes. Deciding who to test and for which syndrome is of concern to members of the GI oncology community, molecular geneticists, and genetic counselors. The purpose of this review is to help provide guidelines for testing, given that the results influence syndrome diagnosis and clinical management. Although family history may determine whether testing is appropriate and may direct testing to the most informative family member, evolving clinicopathologic features can identify individual patients who warrant testing. Thus, although the usual absence of clinical premonitory signs in hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (or Lynch syndrome) adds difficulty to its diagnosis, use of the Amsterdam Criteria and Bethesda Guidelines can prove helpful. In contrast, premonitory stigmata such as pigmentations in Peutz-Jeghers syndrome and the phenotypic features of familial adenomatous polyposis aid significantly in syndrome diagnosis. We conclude that the physician's role in advising DNA testing is no small matter, given that a hereditary cancer syndrome's sequelae may be far reaching. Genetic counselors may be extremely helpful to the practicing gastroenterologist, oncologist, or surgeon; when more specialized knowledge is called for, referral can be made to a medical geneticist and/or a medical genetics clinic.

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    • "While identifying genetic susceptibility to cancer provides an opportunity for preventive behavior, including improvement in diet, exercise, and screening practices, negative consequences are also possible. For example, a recent paper by Lynch et al. (2007) noted the potential emotional distress that may occur following identification of a genetic susceptibility to cancer, as well as the distress that those who have negative or ambiguous results can experience. These findings highlight the importance of evaluating participant willingness a priori to receive such information and discussing implications of results. "
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    ABSTRACT: Hereditary breast cancer (HBC) accounts for as much as 10% of the total BC burden. Most of these cases will be found to be due to a BRCA germline mutation. An estimated additional 15-20% of those affected with BC will have one or more first- and/or second-degree relatives with BC. Therefore, when these numbers are combined, familial BC risk accounts for approximately 20-25% of the total BC burden. However, because of the often limited information on family history in the etiologic assessment of BC, this may be an underestimate. Confounding factors include its phenotypic and genotypic heterogeneity, given the association of HBC with a plethora of differing cancer syndromes. Its most common occurrence is its association with ovarian cancer in the so-called hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome due to BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. More rarely, it occurs in the Li-Fraumeni syndrome, caused by a p53 germline mutation, in which markedly early-onset BC is found in association with brain tumors, sarcomas, leukemia, lymphoma, malignant melanoma, and adrenal cortical carcinoma. Importantly, the age-adjusted incidence of BC in women in the United States fell sharply, by 6.7%, in 2003, when compared with the rate identified in 2002. We postulate that increasing knowledge about the genetics of BC may have partially contributed to the identification of high-risk patients who thereby may have benefited significantly from early diagnosis.
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