Less Than Half of Recommended Adults Screened for Lynch Syndrome

PHILADELPHIA (January 20, 2017) – A team of researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center found that, despite the recommendation of screening guidelines, less than half of adults younger than 50 years old who have colorectal cancer are being screened for Lynch Syndrome, a genetic anomaly that increases the risk of colorectal and several other forms of cancer.

Nestor F. Esnaola, MD, MPH
Nestor F. Esnaola, MD, MPH

The team, led by Nestor F. Esnaola, MD, MPH, Associate Director of Cancer Health Disparities and Community Engagement and Professor of Surgical Oncology at Fox Chase, has been recognized with an American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Conquer Cancer Foundation Merit Award.

The researchers studied factors and barriers that predicted compliance with microsatellite instability (MSI) testing in young patients as well as factors associated with an increased risk of having MSI high disease. MSI testing is recommended for all patients younger than 50 years of age because of prognostic and therapeutic implications. MSI is a characteristic feature of Lynch syndrome and thus having a germline mutation may put the patient and family members at risk for additional malignancies.

“MSI testing is recommended for colorectal cancer patients because if a patient is found to have Lynch Syndrome, we can develop a prevention and early detection plan to reduce his or her risk of developing the cancers associated with it,” Esnaola said. “We found that although compliance with testing guidelines increased over the years we studied, overall less than half of colorectal cancer patients less than 50 years old were getting tested.”

The Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO supports breakthrough research, initiatives to improve the quality of and access to cancer care, and informational resources for patients and physicians. 

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence six consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

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