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Creighton Doctor’s Research Highlighted in Medical Journal

Creighton Doctor’s Research Highlighted in Medical Journal

The research of Henry Lynch, M.D., director of the Creighton University Hereditary Cancer Center, is the focus of an editorial and three separate studies reported in the Sept. 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The editorial and studies are linked to Lynch’s groundbreaking work in the field of hereditary cancers and his discovery of the Lynch syndrome, a rare disorder named after him and also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer syndrome.

“Dr. Lynch’s research has had a significant and lasting impact on the international medical community’s understanding of hereditary cancer,” said Cam Enarson, M.D., Creighton University vice president for health sciences. “His focus on patient-oriented research has led to important enhancements in patient care that have benefited patients with Lynch syndrome and their families.”

Lynch began his life-long investigation of the role genetics play in cancer more than 45 years ago, when most of his contemporaries believed cancer was triggered solely by environmental causes. The Lynch syndrome is caused by a gene mutation that places individuals at high risk for developing cancers of the colon, endometrium, ovaries, stomach, small bowel, pancreas, urologic track and brain.

His identification of Lynch syndrome in colon cancer now makes it possible to predict with nearly 90 percent accuracy the risk of the disease in patients with the gene mutation. With early detection, Lynch syndrome and other colon cancers are curable in 90 percent of patients.

An estimated 3-4 percent of all colon cancer cases can be attributed to Lynch syndrome. Patients with this syndrome tend to get colorectal cancer at a much younger age, around 45 years, as compared to an average age of onset of 62-65 years in the general population.

For patients at high risk of hereditary cancer, genetic counseling is critical, particularly if genetic testing is being considered, Lynch says. Preparing a comprehensive family medical history is vital for physicians to properly screen and manage high-risk patients.

For more information about Lynch syndrome and other genetic-related cancers, including hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancer, contact the Creighton University Hereditary Cancer Center in Omaha, Neb., at 800-648-8133 or The center’s web address is:

Posted: 9/29/06

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