Published online Oct 15, 2009. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v1.i1.12
Revised: March 31, 2009
Accepted: April 7, 2009
Published online: October 15, 2009
Colorectal cancer (CRC), one of the most common cancers of the world, is actually a spectrum of several subtypes, with different molecular profiles, clinico-pathological characteristics and possibly separate pathways of progression. It is estimated that in approximately 25%-35% of cases, a familial component exists, so they are classified as familial CRC (fCRC). However the known hereditary CRC syndromes justify only up to 5%. The rest are attributed to some inherited genetic predisposition passed to offspring through low-penetrance genes, which in the proper environmental setting can bring on tumorigenesis. Furthermore, part of the familial clustering may be attributed to chance. Because of the complexity regarding the etiology of CRC, the clinician is sometimes faced with obscure patient data, and cannot be sure if they are dealing with fCRC or sporadic CRC. The elucidation of what is going on with the as yet “undefined” portion of CRC will aid not only in the diagnosis, classification and treatment of CRC, but more importantly in the proper adjustment of the screening guidelines and in genetic counselling of patients.