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What is lynch syndrome ?

Lynch syndrome is a condition of inherited gene mutation which promotes the cause of colon and other cancers. Historically, it was called as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. The risk of colon cancer may be promoted by many inherited conditions, but the Lynch syndrome plays the major and the most common role. It is estimated by the doctors that 3 cases of colon cancer is reported in every 100 subject of Lynch syndrome.

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It was found that the families with a history of Lynch syndrome are more prone to get colon cancer. Also, Lynch syndrome  increases the risk to colon cancer at an early age.

Symptoms of Lynch syndrome

Persons suffering from Lynch syndrome have the following signs:

  • Colon cancer and endometrial cancer occurs at younger age, particularly for those who have a family history of the condition.
  • A family history of cancers of the kidneys, the stomach, the ovaries, the liver, the small intestine and other of other organs
  • Family history plays the prime role in contracting the above shown cancers for persons who suffer from Lynch syndrome.

The genetic disorder can cause other complications in life, such as:

  • Loss of privacy: The genetic test results are recorded in the medical report, which may hamper the positive assessment of employer and insurance agencies. It may create problems in change of job and in taking a health insurance. The genetic counselor can guide about the protection given by the federal law against discriminations and in other areas of concern for a person affected by Lynch syndrome.
  • Effects of Lynch syndrome on extended family: If a person is diagnosed with Lynch syndrome, the entire family may have to face the implications of the condition including the children.

When to consult a doctor

Anyone who may have the family history of colon or endometrial cancers, should consult the doctor at the earliest, to evaluate the genetic effect and risk. If anyone in a family is diagnosed with Lynch syndrome, discuss it with doctor, and contact a trained genetic counselor for help.

The genetic counselor can guide to understand Lynch syndrome causes and symptoms and also help to get the appropriate genetic testing done.

Causes of Lynch syndrome

Normally Lynch syndrome occurs to a member in a family which has a history of the genetic disorder, with the pattern of an autosomal dominant inheritance.

If any one parent carries the gene mutation, it is likely that the child also has 50% chances of getting the Lynch syndrome. The effect of Lynch syndrome is same for both males and females.

All chemical processes of the body are commanded and guided by a genetic material called DNA. When the cells grow and divide, barring a few minor mistakes, the copies of the DNA are passed on. A normal cell has the inbuilt system to recognize and correct the errors. The abnormal genes with Lynch syndrome fail in correcting the shortcomings in the DNA code. When such errors accumulate, it increases the risk to the genetic disorder resulting in the cells becoming cancerous.

Treatment of Lynch syndrome

  • The treatment for colon cancer caused by the Lynch syndrome is the same as in any other colon cancer. Depending on the stage and location of the colon cancer, the affected portion of colon will be removed.
  • The risk of cancer due to Lynch syndrome remains elevated, because it has the track record of recurrence of additional/future cases of colon cancer. Colon cancers are treated by performing surgery, chemotherapy or by radiation therapy.

All patients need to undergo cancer screening tests to avoid complications. Some of the screening tests include:

  • Screening of colon cancer: Taking colonoscopy every year, after the age of 20, helps the doctor to examine the entire inside part of colon and identify the location of colon cancer or any precancerous growth which ultimately results in colon cancer. Removing polyps decrease the chances of getting colon cancer. The colon polyps are very difficult to find out in normal course. For getting clear images of cancer in colon, the latest technologies such as high-definition colonoscopy and chromoendoscopy are employed.
  • Screening for ovarian cancer: Women with Lynch syndrome are recommended by the doctors to have ultrasound examination of ovary every year. The changes and the indication of the presence of cancer in ovary come to light in the annual comparative study of ultrasound tests.
  • Screening for Endometrial cancer: Women with Lynch syndrome, above the age of 30, are screened every year. The doctor removes a little piece from the uterus during the endometrial biopsy to find out whether there is any indication of cancer in cells.
  • Urinary system cancer screening: If a family has history of urinary system cancer, such as kidney cancer associated with the Lynch syndrome, then the doctor may advice a periodic screening. Urine samples can expose the cancerous cells if present.
  • Screening for skin cancer: Persons with Lynch syndrome may have the signs of skin cancer, affecting the sweat glands. Occasional skin screening can avoid the risk of the suffering from skin cancer.
  • Gastrointestinal cancer screening: People with a family history of gastrointestinal cancer, linked with Lynch syndrome, will be asked to go for endoscopy, which enables the doctor to clearly see the stomach, small intestine cancers and the entire gastrointestinal system.

Preventive surgery can avoid the colon cancer, removal of uterus can prevent endometrial cancer, and removal of ovary can prevent ovarian cancer, but becoming pregnant is then impossible.

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