Hereditary Non Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC) – Causes and Symptoms of HNPCC

Hereditary non polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) is a rare inherited cancer of digestive tract that involves mostly the colon and rectum. It is also called as Lynch syndrome. It increases the risk of cancers of skin, brain, prostate, upper urinary tract, gall bladder ducts, liver and stomach.

It is an inherited disorder and is known to occur in people at an early age if the family has an history of the condition. It is estimated that about 160,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancers every year in the United States. Out of every 100 colon cancers, 3 are known to be caused by HNPCC.

Causes of Hereditary Non Polyposis Colorectal Cancer
HNPCC is an inherited condition i.e the risk of cancers are passed through generations in an affected family. The type of inheritance is autosomal dominant inheritance. The gene that carries the defect and responsible for the condition is called as a mutated gene. Parent who carries the mutated gene has a 50% chance of inheriting to the next generation. The risk of the condition is same whether the mutated gene is carried by the mother, father, son or a daughter.

DNA is a genetic material that is responsible for each and every chemical activity in the body. There are several genes on the DNA that are responsible for HNPCC. Cells make copies of DNA as they grow and divide. They generally correct any mistakes that take place. But if the genes are abnormal, they cannot be repaired and the accumulation of these mutated genes cause genetic damage in the cells and lead to cancerous cells.

The following factors increase the risk of HNPCC:

  • History of surgically removed benign cancer growths
  • History of colon or rectal cancer
  • Intake of diet that is low in fiber and high in fat
  • Certain disease conditions such as Crohn’s disease and chronic ulcerative colitis
  • History of ovarian, uterine or breast cancer in women

Symptoms of Hereditary Non Polyposis Colorectal Cancer
The signs and symptoms of HNPCC include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Increase in abdominal mass
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Blood in the feces
  • Change in bowel habits along with diarrhoea and constipation

Consult a medical professional if you have a family history of colon or rectal cancers and get diagnosed immediately. If you are diagnosed with HNPCC, go for genetic counselling. This would help you in understanding about the condition, its cause and the care to be taken.

1 response to Hereditary Non Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC) – Causes and Symptoms of HNPCC

  1. Thank you for the public awareness article on HNPCC, better known as Lynch syndrome. It may be lifesaving for someone who is at high risk for Lynch cancers.

    What isn’t known by many is there are approximately 600,000 individuals in the United States alone who are projected to have the damaged gene, however it is projected only 5% of that number are diagnosed today. From an international perspective, the statistics are even greater.

    Lynch syndrome cancers can be detected and treated very early if there is an early diagnosis of Lynch syndrome that allows for annual testing for Lynch cancers. The only way to get diagnosed, absent a tumor and taking a test, is for one to know one’s family history. Please join us in our mission to protect families and save lives.

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