Researchers developing genetic test for colon cancer

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by By JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:45 AM

Video: Gene may help determine colon cancer risk

A genetic screening test for colon cancer? It's closer than you think. Researchers have pinpointed a gene that may help determine your risk.

Patients in the study were from various ethnic backgrounds. If further studies confirm these findings, researchers believe that will pave the way for earlier screening tests.

By the time Myra Wiggonton learned she had colon cancer in 2005, it had spread to her liver. Her family helped her survive.

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

Oncologist Dr. Boris Pasche of the University of Alabama and his colleagues are looking into factors that may increase or decrease a patient's risk of developing colon cancer.

"What we have found is a region of a gene that is associated with colorectal cancer risk," said Pasche.

Researchers conducted two independent studies using blood samples from more than 600 patients with colorectal cancer and more than 800 people without cancer. They found that those who had a certain variation of the adiponectin gene were less likely to have colorectal cancer.

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

Pasche believes the findings should offer reassurance 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 Pasche.

Wiggonton hopes that her family and others may not have to endure the struggle she had with colon cancer.

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