New genetic screenings help identify colorectal cancers

UT Southwestern Medical Center has developed a lifesaving genetic screening program for families at high risk of contracting colorectal cancer, a deadly yet highly preventable form of cancer.

Doctors screen the tumors of colorectal cancer patients younger than 70 and uterine cancer patients younger than 55 to determine if there is a high risk of a genetic cancer predisposition. If so, patients are encouraged to bring in as many family members as possible for testing.

 “If we can bring in family members, we have a chance to catch their colon cancer early and even prevent it,” said Dr. Samir Gupta, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and head of the high-risk colorectal cancer clinic established in 2011.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading killer after lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Although hereditary colorectal cancer is rare, its family impact can be widespread. Cancer tends to develop rapidly in those with Lynch syndrome, one of the more common inherited conditions. Lynch syndrome accounts for 3 percent to 5 percent of all colon cancers, and often is undiagnosed until the disease is advanced.

Patients with Lynch syndrome have an 80 percent risk of contracting colorectal cancer, up to 60 percent risk for uterine cancer and higher than average risks for other cancer types.

Visit www.utsouthwestern.org/cancer to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in cancer.

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Media Contact: Debbie Bolles

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