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Familial Polyposis Syndromes

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Familial polyposis is an inherited condition primarily affecting your large intestine (colon and rectum).

Many polyps, sometimes hundreds, develop on the inner lining of this part of the bowel and eventually become malignant if not treated.

These polyps commonly develop just after puberty. Approximately half of all patients have polyps by age 14. Nearly 90% will have detectable polyps by age 25. By age 35 to 40, one or more of these polyps may become cancerous.

Many individuals develop polyps and have no symptoms. Others experience diarrhea, constipation, abdominal cramps, bloody stool, or weight loss. Patients may also develop other malignant and nonmalignant tumors and/or some bone, skin and dental abnormalities. In addition, they may develop a “spot” on the retina of his or her eye.

The only definitive treatment for familial polyposis is surgical removal of the lower intestine. Since the goal is to prevent cancer, the operation is done as soon as polyps are discovered. There are several types of surgery to treat this condition and the surgeon and patient will determine which is best for his or her particular case.

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