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Silent Syndrome: Lynch Syndrome a Family Affair; Evansville Cancer Center Encourages Residents to Receive Genetic Testing to Identify Lynch Syndrome

Research Continues to Identify Many Indiana Rural Families as Carriers of Gene

According to John Hopkins University, more than 600,000 people in the United States carry Lynch syndrome genetic defects. Each of them has approximately a 50 percent chance of developing colorectal cancer by age 70, along with increased risks for other cancers. While colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer, many patients let alone their doctors are even aware of what exactly is Lynch Syndrome. While this “silent syndrome” continues to plague countless families, Evansville Cancer Center and Myriad Genetic Laboratories are teaming up to offer new genetic testing for patients at risk for this disease.


Lynch syndrome is a rare disorder also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer syndrome. Though not a cancer in its own right, Lynch syndrome strongly predisposes people who have this inherited defect to develop colorectal cancer as well as several other types of cancer. The condition is named after Dr. Henry Lynch, a national and international authority on inherited cancers.

Seven years ago, Dr. Lynch came to Southern Indiana on research and discovered that a rural family processed a gene (MSH2) that caused colon cancer. Dr. Lynch began testing a number of patients in and around the area and found a high incidence of Lynch Syndrome in the area. His research has helped to further advance education of the disease and develop new genetic testing to more effectively identify genes.

When colorectal cancer is associated with Lynch syndrome, it tends to occur at a younger age than in most other colorectal cancer cases. If your family history suggests that Lynch syndrome may be present, genetic testing can determine if you have Lynch syndrome so that you can consider steps to either prevent the development of colon cancer or at least detect it at an earlier, more treatable, stage.


COLARIS® assesses an individual's risk of developing colorectal, endometrial and other related cancers based on the detection of mutations in the MLH1, MSH2, and MSH6 genes. This hereditary cancer syndrome is known as Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC) or Lynch Syndrome. The COLARIS® genetic test requires only a blood sample to determine whether a patient carries gene mutations, indicating a predisposition to colorectal cancer. Results are attained in 21 days. This is the most accurate clinical test available to detect gene mutations that increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.


According to Dr. Lynch, primary care physicians are the first line of defense against Lynch Syndrome, but many do not even follow a patient’s family history let alone know about Lynch Syndrome. If doctors do their homework they can identify an immediate pattern and prescribe genetic tests (i.e. COLARIS®) so that the cancer can be kept at bay.


Evansville resident and teacher Barbara Adams is 1 of 7 siblings. Her mom and uncle (mom’s brother) both were diagnosed with colon cancer 10 and 15 years ago respectively. Two of Barbara’s brothers were tested and found to have Lynch Syndrome. Currently, her sister is battling with an insurance company to cover genetic testing.

Barbara also has three children. Her oldest son Matthew was diagnosed and treated for colon cancer in 2004. In 2005, the cancer spread to his liver and he tragically passed away in December 2007. Before his death, Matthew did receive a genetic test to help his mom, brother and sister. Barbara’s daughter was tested but Lynch Syndrome was not detected. Her son was reluctant to be tested until his dying brother convinced him to be tested. He is awaiting the results. Finally, Barbara’s niece, 20, was recently tested and diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome.

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