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Lynch earns inaugural Luminary Award for lifetime dedicated to documenting hereditary cancer

Henry Lynch, MDHenry Lynch, MD, founding director of Creighton University’s Hereditary Cancer Center, received an inaugural Luminary Award in GI Cancer during a Dec. 1 ceremony at the Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers during the annual Ruesch Symposium in Washington, D.C.

The Luminary Award honors individuals whose transformative research closes the gap to curing gastrointestinal cancers, described by Ruesch Center officials as an often misunderstood, underfunded and not commonly discussed form of cancer. More than 300,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a gastrointestinal cancer this year.

For the past 10 years, Lynch has been working with a family in Amman, Jordan, with a history of metastatic stomach cancer. Because that type of stomach cancer grows in the lining of the stomach, forming scattered lesions, there is no reliable way to screen for it. Carriers of the gene are advised to have their entire stomach surgically removed.

Lynch’s more than 50 years of work in uncovering the first known hereditary cause of cancer lead to the dismissal of the previous understanding that cancer was environmentally driven. His discovery, later known as Lynch syndrome, has not only led to a deeper understanding of the hereditary nature of diseases such as breast and colon cancer but has provided an explanation for patients who are diagnosed with multiple tumors.

Turning 90 next month, Lynch continues to keep daily hours at the Hereditary Cancer Center at Creighton. Since opening in 1984, the Center has tracked 237,429 individuals and 3,332 families representing various forms of hereditary cancer.

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