This information explains how having a mutation in the POLE gene may affect you and your family.
In this resource, the word “family” means family members related to you by blood. They are not related to you through marriage or adoption.
Your POLE gene normally helps prevent cancers. A mutation in this gene causes it to stop working like it should. This increases your risk for certain types of cancers.Back to top
What is my cancer risk if I have a POLE mutation?
If you have a mutation in the POLE gene, this means you have a condition called Polymerase Proofreading-Associated Polyposis (PPAP) syndrome. PPAP syndrome increases your risk of developing polyps (growths of tissue) in your colon and rectum. These polyps can lead to an increased risk for colorectal (colon and rectal) cancer.
As we learn more about these mutations, we may learn they increase the risk for other types of cancers. Your genetic counselor will give you more information about your cancer risk if you have a mutation.
For more information, read Hereditary Colon Cancer and Polyposis.Back to top
What can I do about my cancer risk if I have a POLE mutation?
If you have a mutation, your genetic counselor will review your results and your personal and family history of cancer and give you cancer screening recommendations.
They may recommend you start having cancer screenings at a younger age, have them more often than most people, or get specialized screenings to help find cancer as early as possible.
For example, they may recommend getting colonoscopies at an earlier age and more often than most people.
Your genetic counselor will also talk with you about whether there are any other screening or prevention options that may be right for you.Back to top
What happens if I don’t have a POLE mutation?
If you don’t have a mutation, your genetic counselor will review your personal and family history and talk with you about the general cancer screening guidelines you should follow.Back to top
What does a POLE mutation mean for my blood relatives?
If you have a mutation, your biological parents, siblings, and children each have a 50% chance of having the same mutation. This means there’s an equal chance they will or won’t have the mutation. Your distant family members may also be at risk for having the same mutation.
Males and females have an equal chance of passing down a mutation in their family. You only need to inherit a mutation from one parent to have an increased risk for cancer.
Your genetic counselor will review your family history and talk with you about whether they recommend genetic testing for your blood relatives.Back to top