Combined molecular and clinical approach for decision making for surgery in HNPCC patients: a report on three cases in two families

Int J Colorectal Dis. 2001 Nov;16(6):402-7. doi: 10.1007/s003840100349.


Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) is associated with highly penetrant germline mutations in mismatch repair genes. Due to a high lifetime risk in gene carriers for synchronous and for metachronous colorectal cancer and endometrial cancer in women, prophylactic and extended surgery are considered as options for gene carriers. A 54-year-old patient with a history of metachronous rectal cancer and a family history fulfilling the Amsterdam criteria presented with carcinoma of the cecum and highly dysplastic adenomas of the splenic flexure and descending colon. As a result of these findings, medical history and molecular diagnosis, the decision was made to perform colectomy and prophylactic hysterectomy with oophorectomy; histological examination of the specimen showed three synchronous colon carcinomas. The 31-year-old son carrying the pathogenic mutation refused to be included in the HNPCC surveillance program. One year later he presented with symptoms of bowel obstruction, and a carcinoma of the descending colon was diagnosed. Intraoperatively, in addition to the colon cancer, a small bowel cancer and peritoneal carcinomatosis were found. In another family fulfilling the Amsterdam criteria without known germline mutation a woman presented with synchronous cancer of the ascending colon and the lower rectum at the age of 49 years. Proctocolectomy and prophylactic hysterectomy were performed, which revealed an additional colon cancer and endometrial cancer. We discuss approaches for individual decision making for surgery in HNPCC patients. Is a subtotal colectomy indicated in the case of first colon cancer in HNPCC patients, or if the first tumor occurs in the lower rectum, should a proctocolectomy or a restorative proctocolectomy be considered? The aim of prospective clinical studies should be to assess acceptability, survival rates, mortality, and the quality of life in HNPCC patients who have undergone surveillance and standard oncological resections versus extended or prophylactic surgery.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Colectomy / methods
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pedigree
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome