Colorectal polyposis as a clue to the diagnosis of Cowden syndrome: Report of two cases and literature review

Giovanni Innella, Sara Miccoli, Dora Colussi, Laura Maria Pradella, Laura Benedetta Amato, Roberta Zuntini, Nunzio Cosimo Mario Salfi, Guido Collina, Francesco Ferrara, Luigi Ricciardiello, Daniela Turchetti
Pathology, Research and Practice 2021 January 8, 218: 153339
Cowden Syndrome (CS) is an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by hamartomatous growth in several organs and by an increased risk of malignancies, which makes its recognition essential to undertake risk reduction measures. Although the involvement of gastrointestinal tract is extremely common, awareness of this entity among gastroenterologists appears limited. We report on two unrelated patients: a 46-year-old male and a 38-year-old woman, who were referred to the Genetic Clinic because of the endoscopic finding of multiple colorectal polyps. Despite both displayed striking clinical (and, in the first case, familial) manifestations of Cowden Syndrome (PTEN Hamartoma Tumor Syndrome-PHTS), they had not been recognized before. Diagnosis of PHTS was confirmed by the detection of causative PTEN variants. Pathological examination of the polyps showed multiple histology types: hyperplastic, juvenile, serrated and lymphoid. Hyperplastic polyps analyzed from both patients failed to show BRAF V600E and KRAS codon 12/13 mutations, which provides evidence against their potential to evolve to colorectal cancer through the serrated pathway. We then reviewed the literature on gastrointestinal polyps detected in patients with Cowden Syndrome, in order to provide a comprehensive scenario of presentations: among a total of 568 patients reported in the literature, 91.7 % presented with colon polyps, with 63.0 % having two or more different histological types of polyps; besides, 58.5 % had extra-colonic polyps (located either in stomach and/or in small intestine). Finding multiple polyps with mixed and/or unusual histology should alert gastroenterologists and pathologists about the possible diagnosis of Cowden Syndrome and prompt the search for other manifestations of this condition in the patient.

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