Peutz-Jeghers syndrome is characterized by the development of noncancerous growths called hamartomatous polyps in the gastrointestinal tract (particularly the stomach and intestines) and a greatly increased risk of developing certain types of cancer.
Children with Peutz-Jeghers syndrome often develop small, dark-colored spots on the lips, around and inside the mouth, near the eyes and nostrils, and around the anus. These spots may also occur on the hands and feet. They appear during childhood and often fade as the person gets older. In addition, most people with Peutz-Jeghers syndrome develop multiple polyps in the stomach and intestines during childhood or adolescence. Polyps can cause health problems such as recurrent bowel obstructions, chronic bleeding, and abdominal pain.
People with Peutz-Jeghers syndrome have a high risk of developing cancer during their lifetimes. Cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, cervix, ovary, and breast are among the most commonly reported tumors.
The prevalence of this condition is uncertain; estimates range from 1 in 25,000 to 300,000 individuals.
Mutations in the STK11 gene (also known as LKB1) cause most cases of Peutz-Jeghers syndrome. The STK11 gene is a tumor suppressor gene, which means that it normally prevents cells from growing and dividing too rapidly or in an uncontrolled way. A mutation in this gene alters the structure or function of the STK11 protein, disrupting its ability to restrain cell division. The resulting uncontrolled cell growth leads to the formation of noncancerous polyps and cancerous tumors in people with Peutz-Jeghers syndrome.
A small percentage of people with Peutz-Jeghers syndrome do not have mutations in the STK11 gene. In these cases, the cause of the disorder is unknown.
Peutz-Jeghers syndrome is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means one copy of the altered gene in each cell is sufficient to increase the risk of developing noncancerous polyps and cancerous tumors. In about half of all cases, an affected person inherits a mutation in the STK11 gene from one affected parent. The remaining cases occur in people with no history of Peutz-Jeghers syndrome in their family. These cases appear to result from new (de novo) mutations in the STK11 gene.
Other Names for This Condition
- Intestinal polyposis-cutaneous pigmentation syndrome
- Lentiginosis, perioral
- Periorificial lentiginosis syndrome
- Peutz-Jeghers polyposis
- Polyposis, hamartomatous intestinal
- Polyposis, intestinal, II
- Polyps-and-spots syndrome
Additional Information & Resources
Genetic Testing Information
Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center
Catalog of Genes and Diseases from OMIM
Scientific Articles on PubMed
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- Hernan I, Roig I, Martin B, Gamundi MJ, Martinez-Gimeno M, Carballo M. De novo germline mutation in the serine-threonine kinase STK11/LKB1 gene associated with Peutz-Jeghers syndrome. Clin Genet. 2004 Jul;66(1):58-62. doi: 10.1111/j.0009-9163.2004.00266.x. Citation on PubMed
- Latchford AR, Phillips RK. Gastrointestinal polyps and cancer in Peutz-Jeghers syndrome: clinical aspects. Fam Cancer. 2011 Sep;10(3):455-61. doi: 10.1007/s10689-011-9442-1. Citation on PubMed
- McGarrity TJ, Amos CI, Baker MJ. Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome. 2001 Feb 23 [updated 2021 Sep 2]. In: Adam MP, Feldman J, Mirzaa GM, Pagon RA, Wallace SE, Bean LJH, Gripp KW, Amemiya A, editors. GeneReviews(R) [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993-2023. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1266/ Citation on PubMed
- McGarrity TJ, Kulin HE, Zaino RJ. Peutz-Jeghers syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol. 2000 Mar;95(3):596-604. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2000.01831.x. Citation on PubMed
- Merg A, Lynch HT, Lynch JF, Howe JR. Hereditary colorectal cancer-part II. Curr Probl Surg. 2005 May;42(5):267-333. doi: 10.1067/j.cpsurg.2005.02.003. No abstract available. Citation on PubMed
- van Lier MG, Wagner A, Mathus-Vliegen EM, Kuipers EJ, Steyerberg EW, van Leerdam ME. High cancer risk in Peutz-Jeghers syndrome: a systematic review and surveillance recommendations. Am J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jun;105(6):1258-64; author reply 1265. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.725. Epub 2010 Jan 5. Citation on PubMed