The genetic disorder Cowden's disease causes the tumor-like growths called hamartomas to develop on one's skin or mucous membranes. Noncancerous and small, this may also grow in various areas of the body including the intestinal tract. Patients with Cowden syndrome are much more likely to contact uterus cancer, breast cancer, and thyroid cancer.
Aside from growth of hamartomas, individuals afflicted with this disease have larger head. They may also be sick with Lhermitte-Duclos disease, a benign brain tumore, and mental retardation.
Managing Cowden's syndrome rests primarily on the early detection, such that patients should undergo periodic mammograms, thyroid scans, laboratory tests, among others.
Most cases of Cowden syndrome (around 80 percent) is caused when the gene that suppresses tumors, PTEN, mutate. As such, PTEN controls the cell development and division. With it mutates, PTEN is unable to direct the survival and the division of the cells. The remaining cases of Cowden syndrome is caused by unknown factors.
This disease is hard to diagnose; it occurs in 1 in 200,000 people.