Medicine of the Future: Hereditary Colorectal Cancer Genetic Test


April 22, 2014

Medicine is always advancing, and this is encouraging news when it comes to cancer. The American Cancer Society estimated that about 140,000 Americans had colorectal cancer in 2013. The odds of developing colorectal cancer are 1 in 20, and although the rate of colon cancer is dropping for individuals over 50, the rate of young-onset colon cancer is rising.

It used to be thought that most colorectal cancers occur independently of family history, but now studies are showing that genetics may play a larger role than previously thought. A San Diego clinical laboratory called Pathway Genomics has recently developed a special genetic test that can identify gene alterations or mutations that can increase a patient’s risk for certain types of cancer.

The test for colon cancer is called Hereditary Colorectal Cancer DNA Insight. The test uses a saliva sample to analyze specific mutations, which can increase a patient’s lifetime risk for developing colorectal cancer by 50 to 80 percent. The test scans the patient’s genome, or genetic code, for many conditions and syndromes such as Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis, juvenile polyposis, and hereditary diffuse gastric cancer.

Pathway Genomics also offers a program that provides free support to family members of qualified patients who have the genetic mutation for colon cancer but the risk for cancer is not understood. This is known as VUS, or variant of unknown significance. The test helps patients and family members better understand how they may be affected by colorectal cancer (Source: Financial Post).


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