The rarity of familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) means that many clinicians may be unaware of the major advances that have taken place in screening for the condition over the past five years. This review is not only to document the current scene but also to give details of those involved in establishing registries throughout the country. FAP is a hereditary disorder which carries with it almost a 100% risk of colorectal cancer. The aim of screening is to detect gene carriers before they present with symptoms attributable to colonic polyps. In this way the incidence of colorectal cancer can be greatly reduced. The use of gene probes to identify patients with FAP is in its infancy but in selected pedigrees gene carriers can be identified using a venous blood sample. The recognition that congenital hypertrophy of the retinal pigment epithelium is an extracolonic manifestation of FAP in most pedigrees allows non-invasive ophthalmological screening of relatives at risk. The combination of these new screening methods with an effective regional registry for FAP can increase the number of patients detected by screening rather than by symptoms. This facilitates appropriate prophylactic surgery and reduces mortality related to colorectal cancer.
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