n South African Journal of Surgery - Inherited colorectal cancer : a plea for a national registry : editorial

Volume 51, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0038-2361
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5151



Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer and cause of cancer-related death worldwide. The majority of individuals who develop CRC have sporadic disease, but up to 20% may have an inherited predisposition. The two most common forms of autosomal dominant inherited colorectal cancer disorders are hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), or Lynch syndrome, and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). The interesting publication by Vergouwe et al. in the February issue of SAJS highlights the high incidence of inherited CRC in a low-incidence area in South Africa. The authors postulate that inherited CRCs may constitute a significant portion of the total disease burden of CRC in South Africa. To put the implications of this article in context, it is important to understand the advances in understanding of the genetics and their implication for early detection and treatment of patients and their families with these hereditary conditions. Lynch syndrome is the commoner of the two, accounting for 2 - 7% of inherited colorectal cancers, with FAP accounting for less than 1%.

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