Approximately 1 out of every 400 people in England may be living with Lynch syndrome, equivalent to almost 175,000. However, a staggering 95% are completely unaware that they have the inherited syndrome.
To address this issue, the National Health Service (NHS) has initiated a systematic approach to expand genetic testing for Lynch syndrome. They are aiming to improve diagnostic accuracy for those suspected of carrying the disorder. They are also enabling family members to be informed about their heightened risk.
By implementing a nationwide programme it is anticipated that all patients diagnosed with colorectal and endometrial cancer will be given the opportunity to undergo genetic testing. This critical step paves the way for a more tailored treatment strategy, ensuring optimal patient care and outcomes.
What is Lynch Syndrome?
Lynch syndrome, also known as Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC), is the leading cause of inherited bowel cancer. It represents a category of inherited cancer syndromes that are linked to a genetic predisposition to various types of cancer. Those who have it are known to face a heightened risk of developing specific cancer types.
The cancers associated with this syndrome tend to manifest at a younger age than typically expected. Those affected also experience an increased probability of being diagnosed with multiple cancer forms throughout their lives.
The Link between Lynch Syndrome and Bowel Cancer
In England, approximately 1,100 cases of bowel cancer annually can be attributed to Lynch syndrome. Based on data from the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG), the lifetime risk of developing bowel cancer for those with the syndrome varies from 10% to 47% by the age of 70, depending on factors such as gender and specific gene mutations.
Lynch syndrome causes mismatch repair genes that don’t function as they should. Changes within the DNA may not get fixed, leading to cells to multiply and develop into cancer cells.
Testing for Bowel Cancer
The National Health Service’s Genomic Medicine Service has been collaborating with oncology and pathology specialists nationwide to enhance the extent of genomic testing for early Lynch syndrome diagnosis. The introduction of this advanced testing will help speed up detection of the condition. This helps to promote better patient outcomes and enables assessment of family members who could be at risk for bowel cancer.
Those who test positive for Lynch syndrome but have not yet developed bowel cancer, would benefit from routine screenings to minimise their future risk.
While the roll-out of this testing is good news, a colonoscopy screening for bowel cancer is already accessible to everyone. To book this common diagnostic procedure, contact Mr Alan Woodward today.