RCPath and Bowel Cancer UK call for improved testing of Lynch syndrome in young bowel cancer patients
Michael Schubert |
It’s estimated that Lynch syndrome causes 1,000 cases of bowel cancer each year, many of which occur in patients under the age of 50 – but fewer than 5 percent of those with the condition have been identified. Why? At least in part, it’s because these unusually young bowel cancer patients aren’t being tested for the genetic disorder.
The test itself is simple – immunohistochemistry can reveal the presence of a defect in a mismatch repair gene. But recent findings (1) published by the Royal College of Pathologists (RCPath) and Bowel Cancer UK indicate that nearly three in 10 hospitals don’t test young bowel cancer patients for Lynch syndrome – and of those that do, only about one in 10 perform the test prior to administering treatment. With current RCPath guidelines (2) in place for two years, why hasn’t testing become automatic? “The main obstacles are financial, resource and capacity barriers,” the researchers explained. “Other factors could be a lack of awareness of the requirement to test or the absence of a specialist gastrointestinal pathologist in some smaller units.” But previous studies have shown that molecular testing for Lynch syndrome is cost-effective (3), allowing patients to be placed on surveillance and their cancers diagnosed and treated in their earliest stages.
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