Clinical and biologic heterogeneity of hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer

Int J Cancer. 2001 Sep 20;95(5):323-8. doi: 10.1002/1097-0215(20010920)95:5<323::aid-ijc1056>;2-h.


MMR gene mutations and MSI are not found in all clinically diagnosed HNPCC families. We evaluated whether MMR genotyping and tumor MSI analysis could identify distinct clinical subgroups among HNPCC families. Twenty-nine clinical HNPCC families were divided into 3 groups: A, families with hMLH1 or hMSH2 gene mutations; B, MMR gene mutations not present but MSI present in at least 50% of tumors tested; C, mutational and MSI analyses negative. We evaluated tumor spectrum, age at onset, risk of cancer in the follow-up and survival for CRC in the 3 groups. Tumors of the target organs in HNPCC (colon and rectum, endometrium, ovary, small bowel, stomach, renal pelvis and ureter) were more frequent in the first 2 groups than in the latter. Colon cancer was more frequently located in the proximal colon and showed an earlier age at onset in families with MMR gene mutation or with MSI than in families with stable tumors. Comparing the occurrence of tumors in the follow-up, in the first 2 groups patients younger than 50 years had a higher RR, which was particularly marked for CRC (RR = 18.6 for group A vs. group C, RR = 16.7 for group B vs. group C). CRC patients in the first 2 groups had a better clinical prognosis. The results of molecular analysis could distinguish, within clinically defined HNPCC families, different subgroups to which specific programs of surveillance could be addressed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Base Pair Mismatch
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / pathology
  • DNA Repair / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Germ-Line Mutation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • MutL Protein Homolog 1
  • MutS Homolog 2 Protein
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Survival Rate


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Carrier Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • MLH1 protein, human
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • MSH2 protein, human
  • MutL Protein Homolog 1
  • MutS Homolog 2 Protein