Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine the frequency of mutations in the mismatch repair genes in families suspected of having hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer.
Methods: We devised two criteria for families suspected of having hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (Criteria I and II). Criteria I consist of at least two first-degree relatives affected with colorectal cancer with at least one of the following: development of multiple colorectal tumors including adenomatous polyp, at least one colorectal cancer case diagnosed before the age of 50, and occurrence of a hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer extracolonic cancer (endometrium, urinary tract, small intestine, stomach, hepatobiliary system, or ovary) in family members. Criteria II consist of one colorectal cancer patient with at least one of the following: early age of onset (<40 years); endometrial, urinary tract, or small intestine cancer in the index patient or a sibling (one aged <50 years); and two siblings with other integral hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer extracolonic cancers (one aged <50 years). A questionnaire was mailed to members of the International Collaborative Group on Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer to determine the mutation detection rate in mismatch repair genes from the families fulfilling these criteria. For comparison the mutation detection rate for families fulfilling the Amsterdam hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer criteria in each institution was also obtained.
Results: Data were obtained from eight different institutions (in 7 different countries). In a total of 123 patients from 123 families (67 families fulfilling Criteria I and 56 families fulfilling Criteria II), genetic testing for germline mismatch repair gene variants was performed. Germline mutations of the hMLH1 or hMSH2 genes were identified in 24 families (20 percent). Of these, the mutation detection rate for families fulfilling Criteria I was 28 percent (19/67). The mutation detection rate for families fulfilling Criteria II was 9 percent (5/56). In these eight institutions, the overall mutation detection rate for families fulfilling the Amsterdam hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer criteria was 50 percent (77/154).
Conclusion: The Criteria I for suspected hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer have the advantages that they can be applied to nuclear families and they can include extracolonic cancers. The results of this study suggest that families fulfilling Criteria I should be offered genetic testing. The relatively low mutation detection rate in those families fulfilling Criteria II suggests that, using current techniques, genetic testing in these families is not practical.