What Causes Lynch Syndrome?

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  • Written By: M. West
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2019
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Lynch Syndrome, otherwise known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), is an uncommon inherited disorder that raises the risk of developing colon cancer as well as other cancers. This genetic condition is autosomal dominant, which refers to the fact that if one parent has the Lynch gene, each child has a 50% chance of inheriting it. As the body cells divide, the genetic code composed of DNA is duplicated, which sometimes leads to the occurrence of small mistakes. A person who possesses this Lynch gene lacks the normal ability to correct these mistakes. As these mishaps build up, they can damage the cells and cause cancer.

A symptom of Lynch syndrome involves the development of colon cancer at a younger age, particularly before the age of 45. More symptoms involve the incidences of cancer in their family history. Members of the family may have also developed colon cancer at a younger age. Other types of cancers may have been in the family, such as endometrial, ovarian, and kidney. In addition, cancers relating to colon cancer, such as those affecting the stomach, small intestine, and liver, may be among their close relatives.


Treatment for the colon cancer associated with Lynch syndrome may involve surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Although treatment of this type of colon cancer is much like that for other colon cancers, it is more likely to involve the surgical removal of a greater portion of the colon. This is due to the fact that these patients have a greater likelihood of colon cancer re-occurrences. Other factors that will influence treatment will be the stage and exact spot of the cancer, as well as the patient's general health.

Preventive measures for those with Lynch syndrome include frequent cancer screenings and preventive surgery. They should eat a healthy diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are beneficial. All of these patients are advised to quit smoking, as this raises the risk of several varieties of cancer.

Aside from health issues, a diagnosis of Lynch syndrome can cause other concerns. Paramount of these anxieties is the possibility of passing the condition on to their children. In addition to their children, they may also worry about extended family members having the Lynch gene. Another area of concern is having employers and health insurance companies gain access to their medical records. Anyone with this condition is encouraged to see a genetics counselor who will be able to advise him or her in all these issues.


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