Genetic testing the key to better bowel cancer outcomes

Bowel Cancer Australia

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Known cancer genes are found in up to a quarter of bowel cancer patients with a family history of the disease, prompting calls for both more genetic testing and more research.
A recent UK study of more than 600 patients with bowel cancer and a family history of early ­onset disease found inherited susceptibility to bowel cancer was relatively common.
Inherited mutations in a group of genes called the mismatch repair (MMR) genes alone accounted for 11% of familial bowel cancers, the research found.
There are currently about 10 known genes associated with a high susceptibility to bowel cancer.
The researchers said more routine testing for these known bowel cancer genes would help in the treatment, counseling and surveillance of both patients and their relatives.
And there was evidence that such genetic screening could help reduce bowel cancer death rates, they said.
However more research was also required to identify the many, as yet unknown gene defects that are also likely to contribute to the development of bowel cancer.
Bowel Cancer Australia chief executive Mr Julien Wiggins said advances in genetic testing and a better understanding of the risks associated with a family history of bowel cancer held the promise of earlier diagnosis, more targeted treatment and better outcomes.
"Identifying the genes associated with familial bowel cancer helps guide treatment decisions for patients and appropriate cancer surveillance for them and their family members at increased risk of disease," he said.
"The expansion of research in this area and genetic testing in diagnosed bowel cancer cases will help build the evidence we need to save more lives."
The study was published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (January 5).
Further Reading -
Bowel Cancer Risk Factors: Family History
Bowel Cancer... You're Never Too Young initiative: My Genes, My Family
Bowel Cancer Australia's Christmas in July campaign: About Bowel Cancer and Family History
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