Up to 15,000 may have Lynch syndrome

Inherited condition increases risk of cancer
  • Deborah Condon

As many as 15,000 people in Ireland may have a condition that increases their risk of a number of cancers, yet the vast majority of these are unaware of it, it has been claimed.

Lynch syndrome is an inherited condition that increases a person's risk of developing several types of cancers, including colon cancer and endometrial cancer. It was previously known as hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer.

An estimated one in every 279 people carry the gene mutation responsible for Lynch syndrome and they have a 50% chance of passing it on to their children. The risk of Lynch syndrome is the same whether the gene mutation carrier is the mother or father or whether the child is a son or daughter.

Affected families tend to have more instances of colon and other cancers than would be typically expected, and these cancers also tend to occur at an earlier age compared to the general population, often before the age of 50.

Lynch Syndrome Ireland is a voluntary group made up of people with the condition, or people who know others affected by it. According to Pat Fahey of the organisation, its aim is to ‘set up a charity to raise awareness of this hereditary condition'.

"We aim to provide a central point to chat about Lynch-related issues and build a bank of information and support for families affected by Lynch Syndrome in Ireland," he explained.

He pointed out that Lynch syndrome is just as common as the BRCA breast cancer gene mutation, however there is far less awareness of it. An estimated 15,000 people in Ireland have the Lynch syndrome defect, yet just 5% of these are aware of it.

However, people who are aware they have it can be monitored more closely and should cancer develop, be treated earlier, increasing their chance of a better outcome.

Lynch Syndrome Ireland pointed out that the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that everyone who is diagnosed with bowel cancer should be tested for Lynch syndrome. It is hoped that by doing this, many new affected families will be identified, who can then be screened regularly.

If you would like more information or want to contact Lynch Syndrome Ireland, email lynchsyndromeirl@gmail.com, tweet @Lynchsyndromirl or Facebook Lynch Syndrome Ireland.


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