New hope to determine colon cancer risk

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
September 30, 2008 3:41:13 PM PDT
An estimated 50,000 people will die from colon cancer this year, and another 150,000 thousand will get a new diagnosis. It is a common cancer, and researchers hope to be better able to predict who is likely to get it.

On Tuesday, they announced an important step in that direction.

To find colon cancer, doctors now recommend periodic screening for everyone starting at age 50. But Dr. Boris Pasche, an oncologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has found one answer to help identify who more likely to get the disease.

"What we have found is a region of a gene that is associated with colorectal cancer risk," Dr. Pasche said.

He and his researchers found that people who have a certain variation of the gene for adiponectin, a chemical made by fatty tissue, are less likely to get colorectal cancer. Dr. Pasche and the researchers analyzed blood samples from some 1,400 people with and without the disease.

They analyzed the DNA from each patient, and found that the people with the variation of the adiponectin gene were less likely to get the disease.

"The degree of decreased risk was approximately 30 percent reduced risk," Dr. Pasche said.

But more research needs to be done so that other genes involved in the development of this deadly disease can be identified. That is the goal.

"It is our hope that we'll be able to offer early screening to the individuals that are at risk, so that we can prevent disease from developing," Dr. Pasche said.

Myra Wiggonton, a patient who has been fighting colorectal cancer, thinks the findings offer hope.

"If people knew they would later have cancer, they could prevent themselves from having it," she said.

The findings of this report are being published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. CLICK HERE for more from JAMA.org.

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STORY BY: Eyewitness News anchor Diana Williams

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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