Correlation with uterine, colon and breast cancers

Last Modified: April 10, 2005

Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Is there any correlation with uterine, colon and breast cancers? My mother-in-law has had all three. She is currently anemic.

Answer

Timothy C. Hoops, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Gastroenterology Division at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of Gastroenterology at Penn Medicine at Radnor, responds:

While there can be clustering of common cancers in a single person, the more they are, the more one thinks of possible genetic syndromes that can cause these multiple cancers.  In this situation, one has to think about a couple of possibilities.  Hereditary breast/ovarian cancer can cause all three cancers.  Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer syndrome can cause colon and uterine cancers but breast cancer is usually not related.  Both syndromes have multiple other cancers that are associated with them, but are fairly infrequent.  There may be other syndromes causing this as well.

As to the current situation with the anemia, there can be many causes and you should discuss this with her physician directly.  However, I might suggest that if no source for the anemia is found, and these studies haven't been performed, she might benefit from an investigation of the rest of the GI tract with an upper endoscopy and a small bowel series.

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