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Colon Cancer and Lynch Syndrome: Know Your Risks

As Colon Cancer Awareness Month approaches, know your risks for both cancer and Lynch Syndrome, a genetic syndrome that could make you more susceptible to a number of different cancers.
PUBLISHED February 16, 2016

Georgia Hurst is a patient advocate for those with Lynch syndrome. She has the MLH1 mutation and fortunately has never had any cancer. She is the co-creator of #GenCSM (Genetic Cancer Social Media) on Twitter, and her advocacy work has afforded her opportunities to write for medical journals, various websites and genetic testing companies, as well as collaborate as a stakeholder for the National Academy of Sciences: Genomics and Population Health Collaborative. Her loves include: her son, her dog, books, photography, long walks in the woods, and seeking out fungi after the rain. Her motto is: "There is enough misery in the world – there’s no need to contribute to it.”

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and the American Cancer Society predicts that this year alone, more than 95,000 people will be diagnosed and nearly 50,000 people will die from the disease.
About three percent of all  people who have colorectal cancer have Lynch Syndrome, an inherited cancer susceptibility syndrome caused by mutations in one of five DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes. 
Lynch Syndrome is passed down in families in a pattern called autosomal dominant, meaning that each child has a 50% chance to inherit the mutation. These carriers have a substantially increased risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, and endometrium, and they typically get it at younger agest than the rest of the population.
Since colorectal cancer can be life-threatening, it is highly advised for everyone to start being tested at the age of 50. But since those with Lynch syndrome are at a high risk of developing cancer before that, they should be screened earlier and with greater frequency. A simple colonoscopy can be life saving by simply removing the polyps before they have the potential to become cancerous. 
If your family medical history includes: three or more relatives with cancer (especially colorectal cancer, or cancer of the endometrium, small intestine, ureter or renal pelvis), two or more successive generations that have been affected by cancer, or one or more relatives diagnosed before the 50 years old, then talk to you doctor and ask for a referral to a genetic counselor to access your risk. Or, go to: The National Society of Genetic Counselors to find a certified genetic counselor near you. 
For more information, please go to:
In honor of Colon Cancer Awareness Month and Lynch Syndrome Awareness Day on March 22nd, #Hcchat on Twitter will be discussing What you need to know about immunotherapy and Lynch Syndrome-related cancers this week. Please join us; if you are unable to participate, you can always read the transcript on Twitter.


Georgia M. Hurst, MA
Founder and Director of (501c3)
HC Chat
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