Universal tumor screening for Lynch syndrome: Perceptions of Canadian pathologists and genetic counselors of barriers and facilitators

Cancer Med. 2019 Jul;8(7):3614-3622. doi: 10.1002/cam4.2182. Epub 2019 May 17.


Background: People at risk of developing hereditary cancers associated with Lynch Syndrome (LS) can be identified through universal screening of colorectal tumors. However, tumor screening practices are variable across Canada and few studies explore the perspectives of genetic counselors and pathologists about tumor screening. This study was conducted to better understand the barriers and facilitators of implementing universal tumor screening in health centers across Canada.

Methods: An online survey about tumor screening programs was administered to genetic counselors and pathologists across Canada through communication channels of professional organizations. It was hosted on SurveyMonkey and accessible from October 2016 to March 2017.

Results: Barriers to tumor screening included a lack of sustainable resources, including funding and genetic counselors. Respondents strongly identified the need for a coordinated, interdisciplinary approach to program planning with the "right people at the table." Respondents currently with a screening program provided advice such as carefully designing the program structure, developing patient and family follow-up protocols, and ensuring adequate resources (funding, staff, training for providers) were available prior to program initiation.

Conclusion: There is no national approach to universal tumor screening in Canada. However, future efforts can be informed by the experiences of those centers that have already created a universal tumor screening program for LS. These data suggest the need for an interdisciplinary approach, initial and sustained funding, and careful advanced planning of program structures and policies.

Keywords: Colorectal Neoplasms; Lynch syndrome; genetic counseling; pathologists; tumor screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / epidemiology*
  • Counselors* / psychology
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Pathologists* / psychology
  • Perception