Lynch syndrome is an inherited disease that increases your risk of colon cancer, endometrial cancer, and many other cancers. Lynch syndrome has always been known as hereditary colon cancer without polyposis (HNPCC).
A number of inherited syndromes can increase your risk of colon cancer or endometrial cancer, but Lynch syndrome is the most common. Doctors estimate that around 3 in 100 colon or endometrial cancers are caused by Lynch syndrome.
People with Lynch Syndrome can experience:
- Colon cancer that occurs at a younger age, especially before the age of 50
- A family history of colon cancer that occurs at a young age
- A family history of cancer that affects the uterus (endometrial cancer)
- A family history of other related cancers, including ovarian cancer, kidney cancer, stomach cancer, small bowel cancer, liver cancer, sweat gland cancer (sebum), and other cancers
Lynch syndrome occurs in families following an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern. This means that if one parent carries a genetic mutation for Lynch syndrome, there is a 50% chance the mutation will be passed on to each child. The risk of Lynch syndrome is the same regardless of whether the carrier of the gene mutation is the mother or the father or whether the child is a son or a daughter.
Aside from health complications, a genetic condition like Lynch syndrome can raise other concerns.
A genetic counselor will be trained to help you navigate areas of your life that may be affected by your diagnosis, such as:
Your privacy. The results of your genetic test will appear on your medical records, which insurance companies and employers can access. You may be wondering whether a diagnosis of Lynch syndrome will make it difficult to change jobs or health insurance plans in the future. A genetic counselor can explain the laws that can protect you.
Their children. If you have Lynch syndrome, your children are at risk of inheriting their genetic mutations. If one parent carries a genetic mutation for Lynch syndrome, each child has a 50% chance of inheriting that mutation. A genetic counselor can help you create a plan to discuss this with your children, including how and when to tell them and when to consider getting tested.