Lynch Syndrome: What Is It?

What is Lynch Syndrome?

Lynch SyndromeAccording to Scottsdale Healthcare’s Dr. Mike Janicek, Lynch Syndrome is as prevalent as the breast & ovarian cancer syndrome. Though Lynch Syndrome is hard to explain, what we know about this disease is that it doesn’t just affect the breast and ovaries.

It is hard to categorize because it is a wide spectrum of diseases: brain cancer, stomach, duodenal, liver, gallbladder, kidney, uterus, bladder, bowel and even some rare skin cancers. Breast cancer’s sister is ovarian cancer, which is also part of Lynch syndrome.

The most important thing you can do for yourself it is to be aware of your risk. Dr. Mike Janicek says, “Preventing cancer should be our supreme goal and one of the most powerful tools we have now is the genetic information that gives us very advanced warning before the cancer has a chance to develop.”

Find out more about Lynch Syndrome by watching the video below.

Transcript

Janicek:  We have heard from Angelina Jolie about the breast ovarian, Gilda Radner was another famous Hollywood star with breast ovarian and that is an important syndrome but actually Lynch syndrome is as prevalent as the breast ovarian cancer syndrome and Lynch syndrome is very hard to explain in a few sentences because it is not just breast and ovaries, it is actually brain cancer, stomach, duodenal, liver, gallbladder, you got there kidneys, ureters, bladder, bowels, the ovaries, the uterus, and even some rare skin cancers.  So, Lynch syndrome and I probably missed a few right there.  Lynch syndrome is a wide spectrum that traditionally was called hereditary non-polyposis colorectal carcinoma, that is a tongue twister when it was originally discovered in families that had a lot of colon cancers.  We have since learned that for women, the most common Lynch cancer they get is not colon, it is actually endometrial cancer.  Ovarian cancer is also part of Lynch syndrome, so for us as GYN oncologists, the other important cancer syndrome to never forget is Lynch syndrome, it is not all about the breast ovarian.  10, 15, 20, 25% of cancers depending on the syndrome are caused by an inherited mutation and if you think about the power of what we call the cascade effect, if you find one individual with the mutation and you draw their family tree and the way genetics works is things are passed down 50-50 chance, you know, roughly half the family members are also going to have that mutation, so one effort of paying attention to the family history, finding a cancer mutation and then spreading that information to family members can literally save lives, it sounds corny, but it gets back to the question of prevention, I mean we all love to treat and cure cancers but it is not that easy.  Preventing cancer should be our supreme goal and one of the most powerful tools we have now is the genetic information that gives us very advanced warning before the cancer has a chance to develop.  One of the biggest tragedies I see is that patient who gets cancer and finds out later that some distant cousin was tested positive and they just never bothered to share the information.  It is a tragedy because just a few e-mails and just getting the word out could have saved that person’s life and so those are the tragedies we are trying to prevent through awareness and getting people to stop fearing cancer, I call it unfear the unknown, that sounds stupid but that is really what it is about.  There is a lot that is unknown about genes, there is a lot of fear but we need to get over that and embrace it and not be afraid of the truth.