What Is Lynch Syndrome?
Lynch syndrome, sometimes called HNPCC (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer), is a genetic disorder that increases your risk of developing colon cancer and several other types of cancers. While there are several genetic disorders that can increase your risk of colorectal or uterine (endometrial) cancer, Lynch syndrome is the most common cause of hereditary colorectal cancer.
Lynch Syndrom & Cancer
Since people with Lynch syndrome are more likely to be diagnosed with cancers, and at an earlier age, than their average-risk counterparts, they must be extremely proactive about cancer screenings. Besides colon cancer, Lynch syndrome has been linked to uterine, ovarian, brain, upper urinary tract, liver, kidney, stomach, bile duct, prostate, and skin cancers. If your family has multiple instances of colorectal cancer or any of the other cancers listed above, or if a family member is diagnosed with Lynch syndrome, it might be beneficial for everyone to be tested for this genetic mutation. The earlier you know about your cancer risk, the better! A Lynch syndrome diagnosis allows you to watch out for certain signs and symptoms that may indicate cancer, and cancers that are caught early are easier to treat.
The US sees approximately 140,000 new cases of colorectal cancer annually, and 3-5% of those are caused by Lynch syndrome. If you’ve been diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome, it’s important to remember that although you may have a higher risk of cancer, there is no guarantee that you will develop cancer.
Lynch Syndrome Treatment
There is no specific treatment for Lynch syndrome, whether it’s caught before a cancer diagnosis or after. If you’re diagnosed with Lynch syndrome but don’t have cancer, just watch out for the symptoms that indicate the types of cancers that people with Lynch syndrome suffer from. However, if you have been diagnosed with Lynch syndrome and have colorectal cancer, your gastroenterologist may decide to remove a larger portion of your colon, because people with Lynch syndrome are more likely to see colon cancer recurrence.
Genetic Testing for Lynch Syndrome
If you have a family history of colorectal or uterine cancers appearing before the age of 50, your next step should be to gather a complete family health history of colorectal cancer. Once armed with this information, you should then speak to your doctor about possible genetic testing for Lynch syndrome. Call today to make an appointment with one of the board-certified gastroenterologists at Digestive Health Associates of Texas!