Familial cancer syndromes: A survey

Henry T. Lynch, Hoda A. Guirgis, Patrick M. Lynch, Jane F. Lynch, Randall E. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Several pre-malignant diseases are known to have a genetic etiology. This study focuses attention upon precancerous disorders wherein the mode of inheritance is either well established or wherein it remains unclear even though familial aggregation of the particular diseases has been amply documented. These conditions will be discussed as useful for systematic investigations of the host etiologic component in carcinogenesis. This survey of hereditary pre-cancerous syndromes includes multiple polyposis of the coli, the multiple mucosal neuroma syndrome, the Cancer Family Syndrome, Sipple's syndrome, Von Recklinghausen's neurofibromatosus, the multiple nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, familial cutaneous malignant melanoma, and carcinoma of the breast. The heterogeneous character of many forms of familial cancer is emphasized. Familial breast cancer associations clearly show such hetrogeneity, as do colon cancer syndromes. Certain of these precancerous states are characterized by phenotypes which are clinically apparent, polyposis coli being the classic example. Others, such as Sipple's syndrome are amenable to routine screening for biochemical markers. The bulk of putative genetic cancer-predisposing problems require further basic investigation of modes of inheritance. Cancer control may be enhanced through communication of useful genetic and diagnostic information to primary care physicians. Referral of cancer clusters of possible genetic etiology from clinicians to human geneticists facilitates the necessary basic research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1867-1881
Number of pages15
Issue number4 S
StatePublished - Apr 1977
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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