Colon Cancer's Hereditary Link Sought by Sentara Cancer Network

Lynch Syndrome Testing of Colon Cancer Patients Improves Prevention, Early Detection

NORFOLK, VA--(Marketwired - Mar 10, 2015) -


  • Lynch Syndrome is a hereditary cancer syndrome affecting 1 in 400 people.
  • Sentara Cancer Network tests all patients diagnosed with colon cancer for Lynch Syndrome.
  • A Certified Genetic Counselor (CGC) can help patients and family members with preventive strategies.
  • Tweet Chat with a CGC scheduled 1:00PM, Thursday, March 12 @sentaraNEWS #LynchChat

Laura Seeley was not yet 40 when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. The disease runs in her family, having claimed her mother, two uncles and her maternal grandparents. Seeley's cancer was discovered early through a screening colonoscopy and surgery removed it without radiation or chemotherapy. Seeley's gastroenterologist read her family history and asked if she had been screened for Lynch Syndrome.

"I'm a nurse and I had never heard of Lynch Syndrome," said Seeley. A blood test at the Sentara Cancer Network partner Virginia Oncology Associates revealed the hereditary link to the colon cancers in her family.

"It was kind of scary," Seeley recalls. "I didn't know the implications."

The implications of Lynch Syndrome include up to an 80% risk of developing colon cancer for both men and women. Lynch Syndrome also raises women's risk of developing uterine, ovarian and breast cancers. While most people schedule their first colonoscopy screening at age 50, patients with Lynch syndrome often start annual screenings at age 25 to remove colon polyps and prevent them from becoming colon cancers.

"Patients diagnosed with Lynch will often feel guilty or depressed about what it means for their children," said Jessa Blount, certified genetic counselor with the Sentara Cancer Network. "I try to assure them that knowledge is power and they can take preventive steps through frequent screenings and family education."

Women with Lynch Syndrome sometimes choose a preventive hysterectomy to avoid uterine or ovarian cancers, either right away or as soon as they finish having children.

"We work closely with other family members if they let us," Blount says. "Families with difficult dynamics sometimes need help navigating their feelings after a diagnosis of Lynch Syndrome and a genetic counselor can help with that process."

About Sentara Healthcare
Sentara Healthcare celebrates a 126-year history of innovation, compassion and community benefit. Based in Norfolk, VA, Sentara is a diverse not-for-profit family of 12 hospitals, the Optima Health Plan, an array of integrated services and a team 28,000 strong on a mission to improve health every day. This mandate is pursued through a disciplined strategy to achieve Top 10% performance in key measures through shared best practices, transformation of primary care and strategic growth that adds value to the communities we serve in Virginia and North Carolina.

About the Sentara Cancer Network
One of the largest accredited networks in the nation, the Sentara Cancer Network leads by creating a challenging and progressive environment for physicians, nurses and clinical leaders. By constantly challenging ourselves to exceed national benchmarks, we are improving our skill and culture of excellence.

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Contact Information:

Dale Gauding
Communications Advisor
24-hour media pager:757.671.4971