Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology

Implementation of universal microsatellite instability and immunohistochemistry screening for diagnosing lynch syndrome in a large academic medical center.

PMID 23401454


In 2009, the Evaluation of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention recommended that all colorectal cancers (CRCs) be screened for Lynch syndrome (LS) through microsatellite instability (MSI) or immunohistochemistry (IHC). No studies report how this process is implemented on a health system-wide basis. Since 2004, Cleveland Clinic has screened CRC specimens with MSI/IHC. Between January 2004 and July 2007, MSI/IHC results went only to the colorectal surgeon (approach 1). Between August 2007 and June 2008, colorectal surgeons and a genetic counselor received the MSI/IHC results, and the counselor e-mailed the colorectal surgeon regarding appropriate patients for genetic counseling (GC) referral (approach 2). After July 2008, the colorectal surgeon and counselor received MSI/IHC results, but the counselor contacted the patient to facilitate referral (approach 3). In approaches 2 and 3, patients were presumed to have sporadic CRC if the tumor lacked MLH1 expression and was also BRAF mutated or if the patient was diagnosed at age greater than 72 years and had no cancer family history. Abnormal MSI/IHC results occurred in 178 (16%) of 1,108 patients. In approach 1, 21 (55%) of 38 patients with abnormal MSI/IHC were referred for GC, 12 (32%) of 38 underwent GC, and 10 (26%) of 38 underwent genetic testing (GT). In approach 2, nine (82%) of 11 patients were referred for GC, seven (64%) of 11 underwent GC, and five (45%) of 11 underwent GT. In approach 3, 56 (100%) of 56 patients were referred for GC, 40 (71%) of 56 underwent GC, and 37 (66%) of 56 underwent GT. Time from referral to GC was 10-fold quicker in approach 3 than approach 1. Implementation of universal MSI/IHC with GC/GT, along with effective multidisciplinary communication and plans of responsibility for patient contact, resulted in increased identification of patients with LS.