Prophylactic surgeries prevent two gynecological cancers in women with Lynch syndrome

HOUSTON - Women diagnosed with Lynch syndrome, a condition often associated with colon cancer, also are at high risk for endometrial and ovarian cancers - both of which can be eliminated by having a prophylactic hysterectomy and oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries), according to a study published by researchers from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in the Jan. 19 New England Journal of Medicine.

Lynch syndrome, also called hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer, is an inherited disorder in which affected individuals have a much higher-than-normal chance of developing colon cancer and/or certain other types of cancer, usually before the age of 60. About one in 1,000 individuals carry the gene mutation that causes Lynch syndrome, which accounts for approximately five percent of all colon (in men and women) and endometrial cancers, and two percent of all ovarian cancers, according to Karen Lu, M.D., associate professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Gynecologic Oncology.

"The key reason that we embarked on this study was that women with Lynch syndrome have an equal risk of developing endometrial and colon cancers, and often develop additional cancers. However, for the last 20 years, the majority of the Lynch syndrome research has been focused on colon cancer risk. Often, women who have this condition don't even realize that they also are at risk for two gynecological cancers, and their risk is extremely high."

Women with the condition have a 40 percent to 60 percent lifetime risk of developing endometrial cancer, and a 10 percent to 12 percent lifetime risk of ovarian cancer, says Lu, the study's corresponding author. By comparison, in the general population, a woman's risk of developing endometrial cancer is about three percent, and a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer is one percent to two percent.

To determine that the preventative surgeries reduced the risk for endometrial and ovarian cancers, Lu and h

Contact: Laura Sussman
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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