The prevalence of colorectal adenoma in 23 affected patients with hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) was compared with that in an age matched forensic autopsy population. The mean ages at diagnosis of colorectal cancer in men (13) and women (10) were 39 and 37 years respectively. In HNPCC patients who presented below the age of 50 years, at least one adenoma was found in 3 of 10 (30%) men and in 4 of 9 (44%) women. In the age matched autopsy specimens of large bowel, a solitary adenoma was found in 2/42 (5%) men (p = 0.015) and 1/21 (5%) women (p = 0.0075). Of the 11 adenomas from HNPCC patients, nine were greater than 1 cm and six showed a pure villous architecture. Contiguous adenocarcinoma was observed with six adenomas. Adenomas do not occur in large numbers in HNPCC, but develop at a young age, attain a large size, often show a villous configuration, and are more prone to malignant conversion than sporadic adenomas.
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