Western Governors Promote Knowing One's Family History of Cancer

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To protect families and save lives, western Governors have proclaimed March 22, 2014 Lynch Syndrome Hereditary Cancer Awareness Day in their states. They encourage people to learn their family history of cancers and discuss it with their physicians, for early diagosis and treatment of hereditary cancers.

"Today, we live..."

United States Governors have proclaimed Saturday, March 22nd, Lynch Syndrome Hereditary Cancer Awareness Day in the southwestern states of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Arkansas, as well as in the western state of Wyoming, and the Pacific Northwest states of Washington, Oregon, Utah and Idaho. A resolution to proclaim this day in California is pending in the California State Assembly.

The program conceived and spearheaded by Lynch Syndrome International (LSI), an all volunteer nonprofit organization, has been successful in the past according to President Linda Bruzzone who advises diagnoses of families ordinarily spike heavily following the mass awareness campaign.

“Our families are so very grateful to the Governor and their staffs. We face immense challenges, and it is heartwarming see our elected leaders stand up and care about us by promoting public awareness to protect families and save lives.
Lynch syndrome is a hereditary cancer condition, which is the result of a defective mismatch repair gene. The purpose of the gene is to repair errors in DNA replication within the body.

“Since it doesn’t work,” explains Bruzzone, “Very simplistically put, errors stack upon errors and tumors form. Those with Lynch syndrome have an extremely high risk of contracting colorectal and endometrial cancers, as well as a high risk of gastric, bladder and ovarian cancers.”

Lynch syndrome affects one in every 440 persons and in the United States, alone, over 800,000 persons are thought to be affected by it. Tragically, however, less than ten percent are currently diagnosed and the sustain multiple life threatening cancers through their lifetimes.

“It doesn’t have to be that way. Most of the cancers are so very preventable.” Bruzzone states. All physicians need to do is take our family histories and if it meets the criteria, make certain genetic testing is provided. It is the ticket to life for us and our families. If positive, we are afforded regular cancer screenings, whereupon emerging cancers (growths, polyps, anomalies) may be detected early before becoming cancerous or at an early stage, allowing early treatment and removal.”
This past year, LSI has been focusing on awareness events within the Southwest United States. With organizing institutions to place a priority on public awareness of the hereditary condition, they are working with local and state organizations to enhance diagnoses.

In April, John Nelson, Tribal Liaison for Lynch Syndrome International, and a contingency of individuals of Native American background, will be exhibiting at the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to spread awareness of Lynch syndrome to thousands of tribal members, nationwide. Nelson, a member of the Navajo Tribe, and a resident of the State of Nevada, was born and raised in the Four Corners region of New Mexico. He is excited about the support from the Governors.
“It was the State of Nevada where I found out my family had Lynch syndrome. I was blessed to have a doctor that was knowledgeable about Lynch syndrome. It’s great we have a Governor [Sandoval] who cares enough to be the first to sign the proclamation. I’m also happy to see Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico, my home state, is also on board.”

Bruzzone advises knowing one’s family history of cancers and speaking to their family physician may save lives, especially with the advancements in today’s modern medical technology.

“We are the lucky ones,” she said. "Today we live.”

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Linda Bruzzone

Linda Bruzzone
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