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Lack of association between screening interval and cancer stage in Lynch syndrome may be accounted for by over-diagnosis; A prospective Lynch syndrome database report

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Sir John BurnORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2019 The Author(s). Background: Recent epidemiological evidence shows that colorectal cancer (CRC) continues to occur in carriers of pathogenic mismatch repair (path-MMR) variants despite frequent colonoscopy surveillance in expert centres. This observation conflicts with the paradigm that removal of all visible polyps should prevent the vast majority of CRC in path-MMR carriers, provided the screening interval is sufficiently short and colonoscopic practice is optimal. Methods: To inform the debate, we examined, in the Prospective Lynch Syndrome Database (PLSD), whether the time since last colonoscopy was associated with the pathological stage at which CRC was diagnosed during prospective surveillance. Path-MMR carriers were recruited for prospective surveillance by colonoscopy. Only variants scored by the InSiGHT Variant Interpretation Committee as class 4 and 5 (clinically actionable) were included. CRCs detected at the first planned colonoscopy, or within one year of this, were excluded as prevalent cancers. Results: Stage at diagnosis and interval between last prospective surveillance colonoscopy and diagnosis were available for 209 patients with 218 CRCs, including 162 path-MLH1, 45 path-MSH2, 10 path-MSH6 and 1 path-PMS2 carriers. The numbers of cancers detected within < 1.5, 1.5-2.5, 2.5-3.5 and at > 3.5 years since last colonoscopy were 36, 93, 56 and 33, respectively. Among these, 16.7, 19.4, 9.9 and 15.1% were stage III-IV, respectively (p = 0.34). The cancers detected more than 2.5 years after the last colonoscopy were not more advanced than those diagnosed earlier (p = 0.14). Conclusions: The CRC stage and interval since last colonoscopy were not correlated, which is in conflict with the accelerated adenoma-carcinoma paradigm. We have previously reported that more frequent colonoscopy is not associated with lower incidence of CRC in path-MMR carriers as was expected. In contrast, point estimates showed a higher incidence with shorter intervals between examinations, a situation that may parallel to over-diagnosis in breast cancer screening. Our findings raise the possibility that some CRCs in path-MMR carriers may spontaneously disappear: the host immune response may not only remove CRC precursor lesions in path-MMR carriers, but may remove infiltrating cancers as well. If confirmed, our suggested interpretation will have a bearing on surveillance policy for path-MMR carriers.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Seppala TT, Ahadova A, Dominguez-Valentin M, Macrae F, Evans DG, Therkildsen C, Sampson J, Scott R, Burn J, Moslein G, Bernstein I, Holinski-Feder E, Pylvanainen K, Renkonen-Sinisalo L, Lepisto A, Lautrup CK, Lindblom A, Plazzer J-P, Winship I, Tjandra D, Katz LH, Aretz S, Huneburg R, Holzapfel S, Heinimann K, Valle AD, Neffa F, Gluck N, De Vos Tot Nederveen Cappel WH, Vasen H, Morak M, Steinke-Lange V, Engel C, Rahner N, Schmiegel W, Vangala D, Thomas H, Green K, Lalloo F, Crosbie EJ, Hill J, Capella G, Pineda M, Navarro M, Blanco I, Ten Broeke S, Nielsen M, Ljungmann K, Nakken S, Lindor N, Frayling I, Hovig E, Sunde L, Kloor M, Mecklin J-P, Kalager M, Moller P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Hereditary Cancer in Clinical Practice

Year: 2019

Volume: 17

Online publication date: 28/02/2019

Acceptance date: 20/02/2019

Date deposited: 20/03/2019

ISSN (print): 1731-2302

ISSN (electronic): 1897-4287

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s13053-019-0106-8


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