Colorectal carcinoma (CRC) is the third most common cancer worldwide. Hereditary factors are important in 15%–35% of affected patients. This review provides an update on the genetic basis of inherited predisposition to CRC. Currently known genetic factors include a group of highly penetrant mutant genes associated with rare mendelian cancer syndromes and a group of common low-penetrance alleles that have been identified through genetic association studies. Additional mechanisms, which may underlie a predisposition to CRC, will be outlined, for example, variants in intermediate penetrance alleles. Recent findings, including mutations in POLE, POLD1 and NTHL1, will be highlighted, and we identify gaps in present knowledge and consider how these may be addressed through current and emerging genomic approaches. It is expected that identification of the missing heritable component of CRC will be resolved through evermore comprehensive cataloguing and phenotypic annotation of CRC-associated variants identified through sequencing approaches. This will have important clinical implications, particularly in areas such as risk stratification, public health and CRC prevention.
- Cancer: colon
- Clinical genetics
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