Lynch Syndrome Is Linked to More Types of Cancer Than Previously Thought

A recent study by researchers in the US has linked Lynch syndrome to several more forms of cancer. Previously, Lynch syndrome has mainly been associated with colorectal and endometrial cancers, but these new findings indicate that it is also connected to cancers including mesothelioma, adrenocortical cancer, melanoma, sarcoma, and prostate and ovarian germ cell cancers more frequently than was thought. The full article can be found here, at Reuters.

Lynch syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), is a rare and inherited condition that increases the risk of some forms of cancer. It is caused by alterations to certain genes, but these are risk factors for cancer; not all people who carry the alterations will develop cancer.

Lynch syndrome has been shown to raise peoples’ risk of many different types of cancer, but it was thought to have the strongest links to colorectal cancers that affect the colon and rectum, and endometrial cancers that occur in the womb or uterus lining. Approximately 3 to 5% of colorectal cancers are caused by Lynch syndrome. It is common to test patients with colorectal and endometrial cancers for the syndrome, and those that are found to have it are offered genetic counselling, screening, and, sometimes, preventative surgery.

The recent research on the topic, carried out by scientists at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, indicates the Lynch syndrome has a greater effect on other forms of cancer than previously believed. The researchers studied the genetics of 15,000 tumour samples from 50 forms of cancer for high microsatellite instability (MSI).

They found that, of the patients with high MSI, 16% had Lynch syndrome. Almost 50% of the patients found to have Lynch syndrome and high or moderate MSI has types of tumours that are rarely or never associated with Lynch syndrome. These included mesothelioma, adrenocortical cancer, melanoma, sarcoma, and prostate and ovarian germ cell cancers.
One author of the study, Dr Zsofia Kinga Stradler, says that the results suggest all patients with high MSI tumours should be screened for Lynch syndrome, not just those with colorectal and endometrial cancers.

Anna Hewitt

Anna Hewitt

Anna is from England and recently finished her undergraduate degree. She has an interest in medicine and enjoys writing. In her spare time she likes to cook, hike, and hang out with cats.

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