Recent Discoveries in the Genetics of Familial Colorectal Cancer and Polyposis

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The development of genome-wide massively parallel sequencing, ie, whole-genome and whole-exome sequencing, and copy number approaches has raised high expectations for the identification of novel hereditary colorectal cancer genes. Although relatively successful for genes causing adenomatous polyposis syndromes, both autosomal dominant and recessive, the identification of genes associated with hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer has proven extremely challenging, mainly because of the absence of major high-penetrance genes and the difficulty in demonstrating the functional impact of the identified variants and their causal association with tumor development. Indeed, most, if not all, novel candidate non-polyposis colorectal cancer genes identified so far lack corroborative data in independent studies. Here we review the novel hereditary colorectal cancer genes and syndromes identified and the candidate genes proposed in recent years as well as discuss the challenges we face.

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