What is Lynch syndrome, the condition that raises bowel cancer risk before 50? | Health - Hindustan Times

What is Lynch syndrome, the hereditary condition that raises bowel cancer risk before 50?

By, New Delhi
Feb 22, 2024 05:41 PM IST

Lynch syndrome is an inherited condition that may raise the risk of developing many kinds of cancer before the age of 50.

Lynch syndrome, a hereditary disorder can raise your risk of developing certain kinds of cancer before the age of 50. The syndrome is usually passed on from parents to children during foetal development and can lead to bowel cancer or colorectal cancer and endometrial or uterine cancer before the age of 50. While the condition doesn't directly cause cancer, but genetic mutations that run in the family can increase the likelihood of the disease. Prenatal screening tests can help detect this syndrome while genetic testing can help detect the disorder in children even after they are born. To tackle Lynch syndrome-related cancers, early detection is important. For that, regular colonoscopy, starting at a younger age are recommended. (Also read: Early bowel cancer signs and symptoms that should not be ignored)

To tackle Lynch syndrome-related cancers, early detection is important.(Freepik)
To tackle Lynch syndrome-related cancers, early detection is important.(Freepik)

"Lynch syndrome is an inherited condition that may raise the risk of developing many kinds of cancer, including bowel cancer and endometrial cancer before the age of 50. This syndrome occurs due to a genetic mutation in one of several types of genes involved in DNA mismatch repair. Genetic mutations are likely to transmit from parents to children during foetal development," says Dr Balkishan Gupta, Director, Minimal Invasive GI and Colorectal Surgeon, Marengo Asia Hospitals Faridabad.

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"Lynch syndrome also known as HNPCC (Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer) is an autosomal dominant condition that increases the risk of developing certain cancers, particularly bowel cancer. It results from mutations in genes that help to correct errors during DNA replication. Lynch syndrome patients have a higher incidence of bowel cancer in their lifetime and such other cancers as endometrial, ovarian, stomach and urinary tract cancers. These patients have an earlier presentation, i.e. younger age group. People with this condition face a much higher risk of developing colorectal cancer at ages below 50 years. This underscores the need for an early diagnosis through screening and surveillance in individuals having Lynch syndrome so that it can be detected rather earlier when it would be more easily treatable," says Dr Tanveer Abdul Majeed, Consultant, Surgical Oncology, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital Navi Mumbai.

"To effectively tackle Lynch syndrome-related cancers, early detection is vital. Screening protocols typically involve genetic testing to identify individuals at risk and surveillance measures, such as regular colonoscopies, starting at a younger age. Genetic counselling plays a pivotal role in Lynch syndrome management, providing affected individuals and their families with personalized risk assessments, guidance on screening strategies, and support in making informed decisions regarding preventive measures, including prophylactic surgery," says Dr Kanuj Malik, Sr. Consultant-Surgical Oncology, Yatharth Hospitals.

Symptoms of Lynch syndrome

"Symptoms may vary from person to person. Most common symptoms of lynch syndrome that relates to colorectal cancer are bloody stool, constipation, abdominal pain or cramps, diarrhoea, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, bloating and Nausea or vomiting. On noticing these symptoms, you should consult a doctor immediately. Delay in treatment can result in worsening medical conditions turning fatal," says Dr Gupta.


While there is no cure for Lynch syndrome itself, the most widely used treatments are followed to treat cancer occurred due to Lynch syndrome:

Chemotherapy: This uses medication to kill fast-growing cancer cells and prevent them from multiplying. Rather than targeting a specific area, these drugs travel through the bloodstream and destroy cancer cells throughout the body.

Radiation Therapy: This uses high-powered radiation (such as x-rays or gamma rays), particles, or radioactive seeds to damage or destroy cancer cells in a specific area.

Surgery: This involves physical removal of a cancerous tumour. The size of the surgery depends on the stage and location of the cancer. However, Lynch syndrome patients with colon or endometrial cancer may be needed to have their entire colon or uterus removed due to the increased likelihood of recurrence.

Testing for Lynch syndrome

Genetic testing can identify mutations linked to Lynch syndrome. This test can enable people to learn about their chances and take necessary actions to minimize it.

"People with this disorder may be advised to start undergoing regular colonoscopies at an earlier age so that any pre-cancerous growths (polyps) can be eliminated before they develop into full-blown cancer cases. Screening tests for women with Lynch syndrome should include surveillance for conditions such as endometrial cancer. Maintaining weight regulation, engaging in physical fitness regularly, and abstaining from smoking and alcohol are also recommended to manage the risk of cancer associated with Lynch syndrome. The screening test includes a transvaginal ultrasound (TVS), to diagnose increased endometrial thickening and in case of suspicion early hysteroscopy and curettage of endometrium help in improved survival of patients," says Dr Tanveer.

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