Health Team

Research suggests test for colorectal cancer risk

Posted September 30, 2008 6:28 p.m. EDT
Updated October 1, 2008 5:47 p.m. EDT

Colorectal cancer is the third-most common cancer in American adults.

Researchers have discovered new information that may identify a genetic marker that determines your risk of developing the disease.

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

Two independent studies compared blood samples and DNA from patients with colorectal cancer with material from patients without cancer. Samples with a certain variation of the adiponectin gene were about 30 percent less likely to have colon cancer.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"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," Pasche said.

Early detection could have saved Myra Wiggonton from her battle with cancer. She was diagnosed in 2005.

During her treatment, she said, "My husband sat with me every night and held my hand 'til I went to sleep."

Now, with a good prognosis, Myra wonders what could have been. "If people knew they would later have cancer, they could prevent themselves from having it," she said.

Wiggonton said she hopes that research will help develop a screening exam and that her family and others may avoid the struggle she had with colon cancer.