Colorectal cancer specialist discusses little-known gene mutation linked to the disease

April 28, 2023
Gastroenterologist Dr. William E. Karnes leads the high-risk colorectal cancer screening program for the UCI Health Digestive Health Institute.

UCI Health gastroenterologist Dr. William Karnes is
sounding the alarm about Lynch syndrome.

IN THE NEWS: One in 300 people have a hereditary condition called Lynch syndrome that is linked to a higher risk of colon cancer — that's more than a million people — and most don’t know they have it.

“Those who test positive for it have a 60% to 80% greater chance of developing colon cancer," says Dr. William Karnes, a gastroenterologist and the director of high-risk colorectal cancer services at the UCI Health Digestive Health Institute.

They also have a higher risk of ovarian, stomach, small intestine, hepatobiliary tract, upper urinary tract, brain and skin cancers.

Spectrum News1 logoKarnes, an expert in hereditary cancers such as Lynch syndrome, told Spectrum News 1 that those who have had cancer at a young age, 50 and under, or a family history of colon or other cancers, should ask their physician to get the simple saliva-based genetic test for Lynch syndrome.

His patient Andrea Barnow, who tested positive for Lynch syndrome, says she is now monitoring her health with additional screenings including annual colonoscopies.

“I really feel empowered having this knowledge. I know what I need to do to keep myself alive,” she says.

Watch the interview ›

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