Exploiting the link between Lynch syndrome and womb cancer
University researchers have used genetic testing to help increase the early detection of womb and bowel cancer, changing national policy and giving patients a better chance of survival.
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Global problem: late detection of a silent killer
Lynch syndrome is a genetic condition that can significantly increase the risk of developing cancer, particularly endometrial (womb) and bowel (by up to 80% in the latter case).
Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK and particularly aggressive as detection generally happens at an advanced stage – earlier detection is needed to increase survival rates.
Alongside this, evidence has shown that for women with Lynch syndrome, developing womb cancer is an early indicator of their susceptibility to bowel cancer.
Finding out she has Lynch syndrome enables a woman to protect herself and her family members from future cancers. At Manchester, we have shown that women with womb cancer want to be tested for Lynch syndrome and that it's cost effective for the NHS to test everyone. This means no cases of Lynch syndrome should be missed.Emma Crosbie / Professor of Gynaecological Oncology
Manchester solution: saving lives through earlier detection
Researchers at The University of Manchester led the first study of its kind in the UK that tested women diagnosed with womb cancer for Lynch syndrome, confirming the link between the two.
By helping to identify those who are Lynch positive, patients and their families can undergo regular early detection testing for bowel and other cancers.
Shaping national policy
This research has now formed the basis for a national policy change on earlier screening and shown how testing all women with womb cancer for Lynch syndrome can then enable preventative or early screening tests for bowel cancer, which is traditionally difficult to detect.
The University of Manchester’s research has helped to:
- confirm the link between Lynch syndrome and womb cancer, an important breakthrough that paves the way for increased testing and earlier diagnosis;
- successfully show that all women diagnosed with womb cancer should be tested for Lynch syndrome so that they and their families can find out whether this inherited condition has raised their cancer risk;
- secure an important change to diagnostic testing policy in England and Wales. NICE Diagnostic Guideline 42 now calls for every woman diagnosed with womb cancer to be tested for Lynch syndrome;
- provided the evidence for a policy that will identify more than 1,000 additional cases of Lynch syndrome every year, enabling screening and early cancer detection for hundreds of people.
Find out more
- Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health story: Driving changes in womb cancer detection
- Professor Emma Crosbie's published research papers
- Policy@Manchester's website: Lynch syndrome activity
Meet the researcher
- Professor Emma Crosbie, Professor of Gynaecological Oncology