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When cancer runs in the family

In the old days, people used to call it, simply, "family cancer."

Now science has shown that more than 8,000 Kentuckians carry a single gene mutation, called Lynch syndrome, that predisposes them to cancers of the colon, stomach, pancreas and endometrium. These cancers tend to show up early in their lives and, in some cases, result in early death.

The discovery of the mutation, and the now likely tracing of its origins back 500 years to around the Cumberland Gap, has researchers wondering why a quarter of the Americans who carry the gene still live in Kentucky and why the number makes it a public health concern.

Getting to the bottom of 'family cancer'