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Genet Med. 2009 Jan;11(1):35-41. doi: 10.1097/GIM.0b013e31818fa2ff.

Recommendations from the EGAPP Working Group: genetic testing strategies in newly diagnosed individuals with colorectal cancer aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality from Lynch syndrome in relatives.

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The Evaluation of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention (EGAPP) Working Group found sufficient evidence to recommend offering genetic testing for Lynch syndrome to individuals with newly diagnosed colorectal cancer to reduce morbidity and mortality in relatives. We found insufficient evidence to recommend a specific genetic testing strategy among the several examined.


Genetic testing to detect Lynch syndrome in individuals with newly diagnosed colorectal cancer (CRC) is proposed as a strategy to reduce CRC morbidity and mortality in their relatives (see Clinical Considerations section for definition of Lynch syndrome). The EGAPP Working Group (EWG) constructed a chain of evidence that linked genetic testing for Lynch syndrome in patients with newly diagnosed CRC with improved health outcomes in their relatives. We found that assessing patients who have newly diagnosed CRC with a series of genetic tests could lead to the identification of Lynch syndrome. Relatives of patients with Lynch syndrome could then be offered genetic testing, and, where indicated, colorectal, and possibly endometrial, cancer surveillance, with the expectation of improved health outcome. The EWG concluded that there is moderate certainty that such a testing strategy would provide moderate population benefit.


The EWG found adequate evidence to conclude that the analytic sensitivity and specificity for preliminary and diagnostic tests were high.


After accounting for the specific technologies and numbers of markers used, the EWG found at least adequate evidence to describe the clinical sensitivity and specificity for three preliminary tests, and for four selected testing strategies. These measures of clinical validity varied with each test and each strategy (see Clinical Considerations section).


The EWG found adequate evidence for testing uptake rates, adherence to recommended surveillance activities, number of relatives approachable, harms associated with additional follow-up, and effectiveness of routine colonoscopy. This chain of evidence supported the use of genetic testing strategies to reduce morbidity/mortality in relatives with Lynch syndrome. Several genetic testing strategies were potentially effective, but none was clearly superior. The evidence for or against effectiveness of identifying mismatch repair (MMR) gene mutations in reducing endometrial cancer morbidity or mortality was inadequate.


CRC is a common disease responsible for an estimated 52,000 deaths in the United States in 2007. In about 3% of newly diagnosed CRC, the underlying cause is a mutation in a MMR gene (Lynch syndrome) that can be reliably identified with existing laboratory tests. Relatives inheriting the mutation have a high (about 45% by age 70) risk of developing CRC. Evidence suggests these relatives will often accept testing and increased surveillance.

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