February 5th 2007
About 6% of colorectal cancers are caused by genetic mutations associated with hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes. The most common hereditary cancer syndromes nurses are likely to encounter include hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer or Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis, attenuated familial adenomatous polyposis, and MYH polyposis. Current colorectal cancer recommendations for risk management, screening, and surveillance are complex and based on level of colorectal cancer risk and whether an individual carries a genetic mutation associated with a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome. Caring for patients with hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes requires nurses to understand how to identify individuals and families at risk for hereditary colorectal cancer, refer to appropriate resources, and provide accurate information regarding screening, surveillance, and management. Nurses play a critical role in assessing colorectal cancer risk, obtaining an accurate family history of cancer, and providing information concerning appropriate cancer screening and surveillance.