Life-saving NHS test helping to diagnose thousands with cancer-causing syndrome

A life-saving NHS testing programme is helping to diagnose thousands of people with a genetic condition that increases the chance of developing cancer.

The health service has begun rolling out a genetic test for Lynch syndrome, an inherited condition that increases the risk of certain cancers, including bowel, ovarian and pancreatic.

It is estimated that 1 in 400 people in England have Lynch syndrome (equivalent to around 175,000 people), but just 5% are aware they are living with the condition.

This cutting-edge genetic test is helping to identify thousands of people who are living with Lynch syndrome – meaning we can work with them to reduce their risk of cancer, and provide more personalised and effective treatment if they do need it.

People with Lynch syndrome are more likely to develop multiple cancers and be diagnosed at a younger age. For example, bowel cancer is most common in those aged over 50 but in someone younger, it may be a sign of Lynch syndrome.

The NHS is now able to identify the condition through a simple blood test, which then goes through a regional genomic laboratory hub, is sequenced, and then sent back to the referring clinician.

A positive diagnosis also means doctors can improve the chances of staying cancer free with interventions like aspirin, which can reduce the risk of bowel cancer developing by up to 50 per cent, regular colonoscopies to check for changes to healthy cells and offering women preventative gynaecological surgery.

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