United States: Although colorectal cancer emerges among younger patients with the number of cases rising, doctors are sounding a warning of a condition that tends to be invisible but is of enormous concern.

It is a genetic condition that affects the case of many cancers development.

Dr. Matthew Grossman – a specialist in intestinal endoscopic (ESI) and gastroenterology with Atlantic Health System in New Jersey – illustrated the effect of Lynch syndrome on human DNA.

He said, “Think of DNA as a ladder,” and, “Normally, errors in the rungs — called mismatches — are fixed by a repair system. In Lynch syndrome, this system is faulty, increasing the risk of mismatches,” reported Fox News.

Due to that defect of mismatch repair, an individual would have a much higher risk of developing the mutations and malformation of cells which will form cancer, said the physician.

Grossman added, “Lynch syndrome is a type of germline mutation, meaning it’s inherited genetically, versus a somatic mutation, which can happen spontaneously to only a few cells.”

Dr. Ajay Bansal from the gastroenterologist department of the University of Kansas Medical Center pointed out that Lynch syndrome remains a barely recognized condition because 95 percent of its patients have no idea that they are actually suffering from it.

He said, “They are not aware that they are at increased risk for not only colon cancer, but also uterine, ovarian, stomach, small bowel, kidney, bladder and perhaps brain cancer,” and, “So it’s very underdiagnosed.”

Another cause why a lot of people are probably unaware of this condition is because it is actually a “silent” disorder. “It doesn’t cause any symptoms until you have cancer,” said Bansal.

There are two main cancers among those who develop the syndrome: colon and rectal cancer and endometrial cancer, reported Fox News.

Lynch syndrome diagnosis

Bansal added, “If a patient has a family history of multiple colon cancers or multiple other cancers in the family, or if somebody in the family had colon cancer or uterine cancer under the age of 50, we recommend genetic testing to confirm the syndrome.”

Patients between 18 to 25 years, and who are in these categories, are mostly tested for Lynch syndrome.

Bansal added, “It’s not approved for the general population, mainly because of costs and insurance concerns,”

He further stated, “For that criteria, if patients have three or more relatives with one of the affecting cancers on the same side of the family, and this is seen in two or more generations with at least one person under age 50, that is highly diagnostic of Lynch syndrome and they should discuss the condition with a doctor.”

How to cure yourself once diagnosed with the disease?

There is no treatment nor definitive “cure” for Lynch syndrome since it’s the outcome of gene mutation.

The patients, whose sample testing is positive, should closely watch out for the early signs of cancer through specific screening tests, especially colonoscopies, says Bansal, reported Fox News.

The screening guidelines are designed to be flexible and take into account the individual patient. In the general population, among people without Lynch syndrome, it is recommended to start colonoscopies at the age of 45.

Likely, for patients with Lynch Syndrome (of course, earlier in cases with more aggressive phenotypes and genotypes), Bansal advised beginning early colonoscopies (at least by the age of 25) biannually, whereas, for patients with other types of hereditary colon cancers, less frequent colonoscopies are recommended.


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