Familial Multiple Polyposis

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Familial Multiple Polyposis: A Comprehensive Guide


Familial multiple polyposis (FMP) is a rare, inherited disorder characterized by the development of numerous polyps in the colon and rectum. These polyps are typically benign, but they have a high potential to develop into colorectal cancer if left untreated. FMP affects approximately 1 in 8,000 individuals worldwide.


FMP is caused by mutations in the APC gene, which encodes a protein involved in the Wnt signaling pathway. The Wnt pathway plays a crucial role in cell growth, differentiation, and migration. Mutations in the APC gene disrupt the normal function of the Wnt pathway, leading to uncontrolled cell growth and the formation of polyps.

FMP is an autosomal dominant disorder, meaning that only one copy of the mutated APC gene is necessary for the condition to manifest. Children of an affected parent have a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation and developing FMP.

Clinical Features

The primary symptom of FMP is the development of multiple polyps in the colon and rectum. These polyps typically start appearing in adolescence or early adulthood and can range in number from a few to hundreds. They are generalmente benign, but they have a high potential to transform into colorectal cancer.

Other symptoms of FMP may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss


FMP is typically diagnosed based on the presence of multiple polyps in the colon and rectum. A colonoscopy is the most common method of diagnosis, which involves inserting a thin, flexible tube with a camera into the colon. Biopsies of the polyps can be taken to confirm the diagnosis.

Genetic testing is also available to identify the specific mutation in the APC gene responsible for FMP. This can help in determining the risk of developing colorectal cancer and guiding treatment decisions.


The primary treatment for FMP is prophylactic colectomy, which involves surgical removal of the entire colon and rectum. This is typically performed in adolescence or early adulthood to prevent the development of colorectal cancer.

In some cases, endoscopic surveillance may be an alternative to prophylactic colectomy. This involves regular colonoscopies to remove polyps as they develop. However, endoscopic surveillance requires lifelong monitoring and is not as effective as prophylactic colectomy in preventing colorectal cancer.

Other treatments for FMP may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce inflammation and symptoms
  • Iron supplements to address anemia caused by rectal bleeding
  • Medications to manage diarrhea


The prognosis for FMP depends on the type and extent of the polyps, as well as the age at which treatment is initiated. With early detection and treatment, most individuals with FMP can live full and healthy lives.

However, individuals with FMP have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, even after prophylactic colectomy. Regular follow-up and monitoring are essential to detect and treat any potential cancer development.


After prophylactic colectomy, individuals with FMP typically require lifelong surveillance to monitor for the development of cancer in other parts of the body, such as the stomach, small intestine, and pancreas. Surveillance may include:

  • Upper endoscopy
  • Small bowel imaging
  • Pancreatic imaging

Psychosocial Impact

FMP can have a significant psychosocial impact on individuals and their families. The condition can be associated with feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation. Genetic counseling and support groups can provide emotional support and guidance.

Management of Genetic Risk

Individuals with FMP may choose to undergo genetic counseling to discuss their risk of passing the mutation on to their children. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is available to help individuals with FMP have children without the condition.


Ongoing research is focused on understanding the genetic and molecular mechanisms of FMP, developing new therapies to prevent and treat colorectal cancer, and improving the quality of life for individuals with the condition.


Familial multiple polyposis is a rare, inherited disorder that can lead to the development of colorectal cancer. Early detection and treatment are essential for minimizing the risk of cancer and improving outcomes. Regular surveillance and psychosocial support are also crucial for long-term management and well-being. With advances in research and treatment, individuals with FMP can live full and healthy lives.

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