March 22 is Lynch Syndrome Hereditary Cancer Awareness Day in Arizona

March 22 is Lynch Syndrome Hereditary Cancer Awareness Day in Arizona

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has declared March 22 Lynch Syndrome Hereditary Cancer Awareness Day due to the efforts of a UACC patient to bring public awareness to this genetic condition.

Arizona joins 12 other states marking March 22 as a day to increase public awareness of this genetic condition. The awareness efforts are being led by Lynch Syndrome International.

Lynch syndrome, also called hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), is an inherited disorder in which affected individuals have a higher-than-normal chance of developing colorectal, endometrial and certain other types of cancer, often before age 50.

Approximately 3 to 5 percent of all cases of colorectal cancer are thought to be due to Lynch syndrome, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Lynch syndrome also significantly increases a woman's risk of endometrial cancer.

Alison Sutton-Ryan was diagnosed with endometrial cancer when she underwent screening to determine why she was having difficulty conceiving another child. That's when she learned she has Lynch syndrome.

"My hope in promoting it is that more people will realize that Lynch syndrome is not only a colon cancer gene," she said. "I had no idea at all that it was in the family."

Sutton-Ryan said she is grateful for the comprehensive care she receives at the Cancer Center's High-Risk Cancer Genetics Clinic.

The UA Cancer Center has the only high-risk clinic in Arizona seeing patients with Lynch syndrome and is the only cancer center in Southern Arizona with genetic counselors.

According to Lynch Syndrome International, more than 600,000 people in the United States have the genetic condition but fewer than 10 percent are diagnosed. In Arizona on average, 667 women are diagnosed with endometrial cancer, of which 107 die and approximately 31 cases are projected to be a result of Lynch syndrome. 

In her proclamation, Gov. Brewer said, "thousands of lives will be saved as a result of public awareness and an early diagnosis of Lynch syndrome."

March 20, 2013