The gene pool is a complex study that helps us learn more about our own medical makeup. We take for granted that everything goes swimmingly with the pool. Sometimes through no fault of our own, things go a little off-course, which upsets the DNA apple cart. Lynch syndrome is a health care issue that physicians and researchers dive into for the sake of our futures.
Have you ever been to a family reunion and realized how much you look like great Aunt Susie, second cousin Jim or your maternal grandmother? These gatherings are the hallmark of seeing our historical genes in action. Just spend an hour or two with relatives and you will spot so many look-a-likes in just one room. This is the blueprint of our DNA.
Think of your genes as going on a train track headed for quality inspection. The genes carry important DNA, which transports orders for the body’s chemical processing. As cells grow and divide, they make copies of their DNA, but sometimes-minor mistakes happen. Normal cells have a way of catching the mistakes and repair themselves passing to the next stop.
People who have inherited one of the abnormal genes linked to Lynch syndrome lack the ability to repair minor mistakes. A build-up of these genetic slips may cause increased damage to the cells and could lead to the cells becoming cancerous. According to a Mayo Clinic overview, LS is an inherited condition that increases your risk of colon cancer and other cancers. This syndrome causes about 3 out of 100 colon cancer. LS is hereditary for both men and women across all ethnic groups in the United States.
Lynch syndrome runs in families so if one parent carries a gene mutation for LS, there is a fifty percent chance that it will be passed on to each child. LS may cause colon cancer to occur at a younger age. People with LS also have an increased chance of getting other forms of cancer, including ovarian, liver, and kidney.
Screening for Women
Current screening for women from age thirty - fifty may include the following but with more research and information these screening recommendations may change.
- Annual pelvic exam
- Pelvic ultrasound
- Endometrial biopsy
Talking with your doctor is the first step with any concerns of a family history of colon, endometrial or other cancers. You may want to ask your doctor about risk factors, reducing your risks, options for cancer screening.
March is national colon cancer awareness month and March 22 is Lynch syndrome public awareness day. Please take the time to learn as much as you can about your genetic tree to help your family stay on track for better lifelong genetic health.