Sporadic and Inherited Colorectal Cancer: How Epidemiology and Molecular Biology Guide Screening and Treatment

Sean C. Glasgow, Karin M. Hardiman

Key Concepts

  • Colorectal cancer is caused by the accumulation of a variety of genetic alterations in colonic mucosa.
  • Colorectal cancer can be hereditary or sporadic (not inherited). Both forms share many of the same genetic alterations.
  • Multiple hereditary forms of colorectal cancer have an expected phenotype due to the genetic alteration that increases the likelihood of the cancer.
  • Screening algorithms for colorectal cancer differ between hereditary and sporadic cancer based on the time expected for an adenoma to become a carcinoma in that patient.
  • Hereditary forms of colorectal cancer are more commonly seen in patients with young onset colorectal cancer.
  • Treatment algorithms for hereditary colorectal cancer are directed towards removal of the cancer and decreasing future risk of additional cancers.

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Last updated: January 26, 2022