Challenges and opportunities for Lynch syndrome cascade testing in the United States

Fam Cancer. 2024 Mar 28. doi: 10.1007/s10689-024-00374-3. Online ahead of print.


Lynch syndrome is an underdiagnosed genetic condition that increases lifetime colorectal, endometrial, and other cancer risk. Cascade testing in relatives is recommended to increase diagnoses and enable access to cancer prevention services, yet uptake is limited due to documented multi-level barriers. Individual barriers such as feelings of fear, guilt, and anxiety and limited knowledge about Lynch syndrome as well as interpersonal barriers including complex family dynamics and language barriers limit family communication about Lynch syndrome and prevent uptake of genetic screening for relatives. Organizational and environmental barriers including a shortage of genetics professionals, high costs, and fears of discrimination also reduce cascade testing. These multi-level barriers may disproportionately impact underserved populations in the United States, such as individuals with lower incomes, limited English-speaking proficiency, lower educational attainment, and inadequate access to health systems. Multi-level facilitators of cascade testing include interpersonal support from family members, peers, and healthcare providers, educational resources, and motivation to improve family health. Taken together, these barriers and facilitators demonstrate a need for interventions and strategies that address multi-level factors to increase cascade testing in families with Lynch syndrome and other hereditary cancer conditions. We provide an example of a cascade testing intervention that has been developed for use in individuals diagnosed with Lynch syndrome and discuss the variety of current approaches to addressing these multi-level barriers.

Keywords: Barriers; Cancer; Cascade testing; Equity; Lynch syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review