Prevention & Early Detection

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Lynch Syndrome

Lynch syndrome is an inherited condition that increases the chance of getting cancers of the digestive tract, most commonly in the colon and rectum. People with Lynch syndrome can be over 10 times more likely to get colorectal cancer than the average person in the U.S.

Also called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), Lynch syndrome also increases the risk for cancers of the stomach, small intestine, bile ducts, upper urinary tract, brain, skin, thyroid, and pancreas. Women with Lynch syndrome also have a high risk for endometrial and ovarian cancer.

About 160,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed each year in the U.S. and an estimated three out of every 100 cases of colon cancer are caused by Lynch syndrome.
People with Lynch syndrome may have colon polyps at an earlier age than the general population, and the polyps they do get are more likely to become cancerous than in the average risk population.

If I have Lynch syndrome, will I definitely get cancer?

People with Lynch syndrome inherit an increased risk of getting cancer; there are many ways to decrease this risk. Families that have Lynch syndrome often, but not always, have many family members affected by cancer. So if you have a family history of colon or endometrial cancer or have had more than one of these cancers yourself, you should discuss genetic counseling and testing with your doctor. Genetic testing looks for changes in the genes that indicate Lynch syndrome. Blood samples are required for genetic testing. Using special laboratory analysis, doctors look at the specific genes that can have mutations that cause Lynch syndrome.

People who have Lynch syndrome may experience colon cancer at a young age—before age 50. You’ll likely have a family history of early-age colon cancer, endometrial cancer, and other cancers like ovarian, kidney, stomach, small intestine, and liver.

More information about Lynch syndrome