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About Familial Polyposis and HNPCC

Familial Adenomatous Polyposis or FAP is an inherited disorder that accounts for about 1-3% of all colon cancers. Families with FAP have a nonfunctioning gene which predisposes them to developing polyps in the gastrointestinal tract. Often by the time people with FAP are teenagers their colon and rectum are carpeted with polyps, and they have an almost certain risk of developing a colorectal malignancy in their thirties. Treatment consists of removing the entire colon and rectum and creating a "new rectum", called a pelvic pouch, out of small intestine, restoring bowel continuity. Trials are also underway examining the use of sulindac and celebrex to shrink the polyps. Close follow up of all family members should be undertaken with a colorectal surgeon and a geneticist to help determine who is at risk.

Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colon Cancer, or HNPCC is another genetic disorder that predisposes younger people to the development of colorectal cancer. It may account for up to 5% of all colorectal cancers. People with a strong family history of colon cancer, or those with relatives that have been diagnosed with other cancers may be at risk. Aggressive screening with colonoscopy should begin at age 20 to 25 years, or 5 years prior to the earliest age a family member was diagnosed. Close follow-up for all family members is important to prevent colon cancer.

The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.

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