Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is a rare disease that causes hundreds of polyps to form in the colon and rectum.
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FAP is caused by a problem in a certain gene. Polyps start growing mainly during the teenage years. Nearly all people with FAP will have polyps by age 35, and colon or rectal cancer found before age 40.
Your chances for FAP are highest if you have other people in your family with the same disease. But, FAP can also happen without anyone in your family having it. This is caused by new changes in the gene.
You may not notice any symptoms at first. When they appear, FAP may cause:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may have:
FAP is treated with surgery. Since FAP causes so many polyps, they can’t be removed one by one. The goal of surgery is to remove the part of the colon that contains them. The type depends on how much of the colon has polyps.
The 3 main surgical treatments are:
Endoscopy is used to find polyps in the small intestine. This is done through small cuts in the belly. Tubes are placed in the cuts. Tools and lights are inserted into the tubes. Polyps are taken out through the tubes.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) shrink the polyps. They can also keep new ones from forming.
There is no way to prevent FAP.
American Cancer Society
United Ostomy Associations of America
Canadian Cancer Society
Ostomy Canada Society
Familial adenomatous polyposis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113901/Familial-adenomatous-polyposis . Updated February 28, 2014. Accessed July 27, 2018.
Familial adenomatous polyposis. Genetics Home Reference website. Available at: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/familial-adenomatous-polyposis. Updated October 2013. Accessed July 27, 2018.
Jasperson KW, Burt RW. APC-associated polyposis conditions. GeneReviews. Available at:
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Updated February 2, 2017. Accessed July 27, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 7/27/2018