NICE says test people with womb cancer for Lynch syndrome

pharmafile | October 29, 2020 | News story | Medical Communications  

New guidance from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence says that women with womb cancer should be tested for Lynch syndrome, an inherited genetic condition. 

This is following research led by Professor Emma Crosbie, with Professor Gareth Evans and Dr Neil Ryan from The University of Manchester and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, which was presented to NICE’s diagnostics advisory committee and showed the benefits of different testing strategies for Lynch syndrome in womb cancer cases in increasing diagnosis of the condition.

This is due to womb cancer being the first cancer that is likely to manifest in Lynch syndrome patients and the condition could be identified earlier if tests were carried out following a womb cancer diagnosis. Since it is a genetic condition, it will also mean a womb cancer patient’s family can be tested for Lynch syndrome to see if they have the disease and can seek early treatment. 

“Testing people for Lynch syndrome after they’ve been diagnosed with womb cancer will not only benefit the patient but it also has the potential to identify those family members with this genetic condition,” commented Meindert Boysen, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE. “This guidance could have a real impact on people’s lives. By being identified as having Lynch syndrome, relatives will know they are at higher risk of gynaecological cancer which may also help them make decisions about family planning, which could mean starting a family earlier.”

The guidance recommends that immunohistochemistry testing should be carried out followed by MLH1 promoter testing. If the patient tests indicate they may have Lynch syndrome, then the genetic testing of a non-tumour DNA should be done to confirm this. 

NICE already recommends that anyone diagnosed with bowel cancer is tested for Lynch syndrome. It is estimated that up to 1,000 people with the condition could be identified each year if this guidance is followed by the NHS. An estimated 175,000 people in the UK have Lynch syndrome and a large proportion will be unaware they have it.

Conor Kavanagh

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