Lynch syndrome is an inherited condition associated with an increased risk for developing several different types of cancer. It is caused by a genetic change that leads to the loss of a specialized chemical called a mismatch repair protein. Another name for this syndrome is hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).
The most common genetic changes associated with Lynch syndrome involve the genes that produce MLH1 and MSH2. A small number of people with Lynch syndrome will show genetic changes involving MSH6 and PMS2.
People with Lynch syndrome are at high risk for developing colon cancer at an early age. Women with Lynch syndrome are also at risk for developing ovarian and endometrial cancer at an early age. Other types of cancers associated with Lynch syndrome include stomach, liver, bladder, skin, and brain.
Muir-Torre is a syndrome that is closely related to Lynch syndrome. People with Muir-Torre are at high risk for developing a type of skin cancer called sebaceous carcinoma. These people are also at risk for developing multiple non-cancerous skin tumours called sebaceous adenomas.