Lynch Syndrome

What is Lynch Syndrome?

Lynch Syndrome is a rare condition that increases your risk of developing certain cancers, such as colorectal cancer. It is also sometimes known as Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer.
It is estimated that as many as one in every 300 people may have Lynch Syndrome.1

About Lynch Syndrome?

Lynch Syndrome is a hereditary condition, which means it is passed from parents to their children. If one parent has Lynch Syndrome, there is a one in two (50%) chance it is passed on to their child.

Lynch Syndrome is caused by a mutation (a genetic change) in one of five different genes. These genes are called:

  • MLH1
  • MSH2
  • MSH6
  • PMS2

The first four of these genes are called mismatch repair (MMR) genes, and they normally work to protect the body against cancer, for example by repairing some forms of damage to DNA in your cells. But if you have Lynch Syndrome, a mutation in one of these genes means that it is unable to do its job properly, so damaged cells may build up in your tissues and cause cancer.

Will I Definitely Get Cancer If I Have Lynch Syndrome?

Having Lynch Syndrome doesn’t mean you will definitely get cancer, but it does significantly increase your risk. Those with Lynch Syndrome who do get cancer, often do so before the age of 50.2

Your risk depends partly on your age, gender, which of the five genes has the mutation and the type of cancers that have been diagnosed in your family history. More information on the types of cancer associated with Lynch Syndrome is below.

There are other modifiable risk factors (in other words, risk factors you can do something about) that can affect your cancer risk, including smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and lifestyle. While healthy living is not a cast-iron guarantee against cancer, particularly against cancer caused by genetics, it can still lower the risk of developing the disease.

Consuming a healthy and nutritious diet, being physically active, and limiting alcohol and tobacco use, may all help to reduce cancer risk.3

1. Lynch Syndrome. Available from:
2. CDC. Lynch Syndrome. Available from:
3. Dashti SG, Win AK, Hardikar SS, Glombicki SE, Mallenahalli S, Thirumurthi S, Peterson SK, You YN, Buchanan DD, Figueiredo JC, Campbell PT, Gallinger S, Newcomb PA, Potter JD, Lindor NM, Le Marchand L, Haile RW, Hopper JL, Jenkins MA, Basen-Engquist KM, Lynch PM, Pande M. Physical activity and the risk of colorectal cancer in Lynch Syndrome. Int J Cancer. 2018 Nov 1;143(9):2250-2260. doi: 10.1002/ijc.31611. Epub 2018 Aug 7. PMID: 29904935; PMCID: PMC6195467.

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