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NICE recommends testing womb cancer patients for inherited condition

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has released new guidance recommending that people with womb cancer should be tested for an inherited genetic condition.

The new diagnostic guidance advises that people with womb cancer are tested for the condition known as Lynch syndrome. According to NICE, having this condition increases the risk of certain types of cancer, including womb and colorectal cancer.

In addition, womb cancer is often the first cancer that those with Lynch syndrome will have, meaning that the condition could be identified earlier if tests were undertaken as soon as a womb cancer diagnosis is made.

In particular, the guidance recommends that immunohistochemistry (IHC) testing should be used on womb cancer tissues to detect abnormalities that could indicated the presence of Lynch syndrome.

This should then be followed by MLH1 testing – if both tests show that an individual could have Lynch syndrome, genetic testing of the person’s non-tumour DNA should then be carried out to confirm this.

Research led by professor Emma Crosbie, with professor Gareth Evans and Dr Neil Ryan from The University of Manchester and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, was presented to NICE’s diagnostic advisory committee.

This showed the different benefits of a range of testing strategies for Lynch syndrome in womb cancer cases in increasing diagnosis of the condition.

Around 175,000 people in the UK have Lynch syndrome and a large number will not be aware that they have the condition.

“Testing people for Lynch syndrome after they’ve been diagnosed with womb cancer will not only benefit the patient but it also has the potential to identify those family members with this genetic condition,” said Meindert Boysen, deputy chief executive and director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE.

“This guidance could have a real impact on people’s lives. By being identified as having Lynch syndrome, relatives will know they are at higher risk of gynaecological cancer which may also help them make decisions about family planning, which could mean starting a family earlier.”