Michelle Springer, MS, CGC - CGA-IGC Communications Committee
Approximately 1 in 280 individuals in the United States have Lynch Syndrome, the most common inherited cause of colon cancer and uterine cancer. While significant progress has been made in identifying families who are at risk, it is estimated that 90% of individuals are still unaware that they have the condition.
Lynch Syndrome is caused by mutations in five different genes: MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, PMS2, and EPCAM. These genes work together to help fix errors in DNA. When one of the genes has a mutation, it cannot do its job correctly in the body and the risk for developing cancer over the course of a person’s lifetime is increased. Lynch Syndrome is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means that only one mutated copy of a gene is necessary to increase the risk for cancer. Both males and females can have Lynch Syndrome and pass on mutations in the Lynch Syndrome genes.
The risk of developing cancer is increased, most significantly for colon, rectal, and endometrial (uterine) cancers. Other cancer types associated with Lynch Syndrome are stomach, small intestine, urinary tract, and brain. It is important to note that not all people with Lynch Syndrome will develop cancer, but because their risk is increased over that for the general population, those with Lynch Syndrome start screening at a younger age and follow more frequent screening guidelines. This includes undergoing colonoscopies every 1-2 years starting as early as age 25, consideration of hysterectomy once an individual is done having children, and screening for stomach and small bowel cancer every 2-4 years, starting at age 30-40 years.
Earlier and increased cancer screening is extremely important in individuals with Lynch syndrome, as it can help detect cancers at an earlier stage and improve outcomes. Newer data is also showing that aspirin and resistant starch may play an important role in lowering the risk for cancers related to Lynch syndrome.
Take a look at these links below to learn more about Lynch Syndrome:
CCARE Lynch Syndrome: https://fightlynch.org/
GI Cancers Alliance: https://www.gicancersalliance.org/
Lynch Syndrome International: https://lynchcancers.com/
FORCE (Facing Hereditary Cancer Empowered): https://www.facingourrisk.org/
InSiGHT (International Society for Gastrointestinal Hereditary Tumours): https://www.insight-group.org/
To find an inherited GI Cancer Genetics Clinic near you, check out the “Find a Clinic” page on the CGA-IGC website.