Advice From the 'Father of Hereditary Cancer'

If you’re a family physician, Henry Lynch, MD – the father of hereditary cancer research – has a message for you:

“Take a detailed family history of your patients,” he said. “By knowing the diseases that run in families, you can save lives. Prevention methods are very simple.”

To capture a precise family history, physicians must get detailed health information on patients as well as their siblings, children, parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

That knowledge is power. With early detection and meticulous vigilance, Lynch syndrome and other colon cancers are potentially curable in 80 to 90 percent of patients.

“Document and verify each case of cancer, if possible,” instructs Dr. Lynch, chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine and president of the Hereditary Cancer Institute at Creighton University.