Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome) is an autosomal dominant disease caused by mutations in the mismatch repair genes in particular in MLH1, MSH2 and MSH6. The disease is characterized by the development of colorectal, endometrial cancer and several other cancers. There is evidence that the clinical expression of the disease varies from one country to another. This variation might affect not only the application of criteria proposed to identify families but also clinical risk factors reported to predict the outcome of genetic testing. Data on site of the cancer, age at diagnosis and pathology were collected from 155 families with suspected HNPCC known at the Korean and Dutch HNPCC registries. DGGE, SSCP and DNA-sequencing were performed to identify MSH2, MLH1 and MSH6 mutations. A total of 33 Korean and 42 Dutch families met the clinical criteria for HNPCC. Germline mutations in the MMR-genes were found in 23 Korean and 24 Dutch families. In families that met the Amsterdam criteria, and also in those associated with MLH1 mutations, more cancers of the stomach and pancreas were observed in the Korean families than in the Dutch HNPCC families; in relative terms, the incidence of cancers of the endometrium in the Korean families was lower. Multivariate analysis showed that an early age at diagnosis, and the occurrence of pancreatic cancer were independent predictive factors of germline mutations in MLH1, MSH2 and MSH6 in the Korean subset of families.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.