Cowden Syndrome: What Oncology Nurses Need to Know About Increased Risk of Developing Certain Cancers

Laura Curr Beamer, DNP, AOCNP®, AOCNS®, APNG


Oncol Nurs Forum. 2014;41(5):557-558. 

In This Article

Implications for Oncology Nurses

Tan et al. (2012) found approximate lifetime risks of 85% for breast cancer, 35% for thyroid cancer, 34% for kidney cancer, 28% for endometrial cancer, 9% for colorectal cancer, and 6% for melanoma. Except for the inclusion of melanoma, these findings are congruent with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2014) Clinical Practice Guidelines for Genetic/Familial High-Risk Assessment: Breast and Ovarian.

Screening and prevention are important considerations for patients with CS. Experts from within the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2014)–member institutions have developed a guideline on enhanced screening and management for individuals with CS. Guidelines for women include breast awareness starting at age 18 years, clinical breast examinations, annual screening mammography and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), education to report signs and symptoms of endometrial cancer, discussion and counsel about risk-reduction methods, cancer risk, and reconstruction options, as well as psychosocial, social, and quality-of-life aspects of risk-reduction surgery (National Comprehensive Cancer Network, 2014). Guidelines for men and women include annual comprehensive examinations starting at age 18 years or five years before the age of the earliest CS-related cancer diagnosis in the family with special attention to thyroid examinations, annual thyroid ultrasound, colonoscopy starting at age 35 years, dermatologic management, renal ultrasound starting at age 40 years, and education about the signs and symptoms of cancer (National Comprehensive Cancer Network, 2014). Guidelines for children include psychomotor assessment at diagnosis of CS and a brain MRI if symptoms exist (National Comprehensive Cancer Network, 2014). Individuals with CS are at increased risk for first and second primary malignancies making enhanced surveillance paramount for their care (Ngeow, Stanuch, Mester, Barnholtz-Sloan, & Eng, 2014).