Genetic link found to colon cancer

By the time Myra Wiggonton was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2005, it had spread to her liver. A grim diagnosis, but her family wouldn't let her give up.

"My family stayed with me 24 hours a day, and my husband sat with me every night and held my hand till I went to sleep," said Wiggonton.

Oncologist Boris Pasche looked into cases like Myra's to find out what factors increase or decrease a patient's colon cancer risk.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published his study and provided this video.

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

Looking at blood samples from more than 600 patients with colorectal cancer and more than 800 people without cancer -- researchers found those who had a certain variation of the adiponectin gene were less likely to have colorectal cancer.

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

Today things are looking up for Myra and prognosis is good. she says the findings should offer hope to others.

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

"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," said Dr. Pasche.

More lives are lost to colorectal cancer than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Patients and scientists hope a genetic test like this will help save more than 50,000 people who die from this disease each year.


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