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"This test is the future for treating:" Groundbreaking new testing may help doctors diagnose Lynch Syndrome earlier

Doctors say there's a simple way to tell if colon cancer runs in your family. Knowing if you have a genetic mutation can help with early detection and even cancer prevention. 

"My great-grandfather, my grandfather, my father, my uncle all had colon cancer," said Jack Birren who also got the same diagnosis in December of 2016. 

"And I woke up with a tumor a little less than the size of a tangerine. Actually two different tumors, one of them the size of a tangerine. And after an interview with a surgeon, he was the first one to suggest Lynch Syndrome to me," said Birren.

Lynch Syndrome is a form of hereditary mutation in the genes. Typically, you have DNA in your body that if cells became mismatched, they'd be repaired. For people with Lynch Syndrome, the genes themselves will grow and create cancer.

"This is a syndrome where the cancers are extremely preventable and so it's critical that we find people who have this condition because we can save their lives," said Heather Hampel with the Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center.

To do that, Lynch Syndrome must be correctly diagnosed so those who have it can begin more frequent cancer screenings. Genetic Counselor Heather Hampel and her team at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center used a one-step test to screen for multiple tumor mutations simultaneously. They found that this simpler method of gene testing was more effective in identifying Lynch Syndrome more than previous methods.

"I think that this test is really the future for treating, not just colon and uterine cancer but probably all cancers," Hampel said.

Birren went through chemotherapy and now spends a lot of time talking to people about the condition. "You know, my son is great because I have it and we need to test him when it's time to test him so we already know what he's going to go through should he have it. My family has already been through it but how many other families are out there that don't know it?"

 Medical providers in our area like Froedtert run a cancer genetics screening program. For more information, click here and here

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