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With Colorectal Cancer: Knowledge is Power

Why do we support cancer research?

We support cancer research for the estimated 145,000 people who will be diagnosed, and the 51,000 who will lose their battle, with colorectal cancer in the United States this year.

Although the majority of colorectal cancer cases are sporadic, meaning they are not due to an inherited gene mutation, approximately 5 percent of cases are caused by a mutation that was inherited.

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Fighting Colorectal Cancer Together

We are proud to partner with Fight Colorectal Cancer by supporting their Research Advocacy Training and Support (RATS) program. This program trains survivors, caregivers and CRC champions on the science behind colorectal cancer, from bench to bedside, and how to effectively engage with researchers, academic institutions and cancer partners.

Join the Fight

We are donating an additional $10 for every person who takes the pledge during March to help fight colorectal cancer.*

Take the Pledge

The Value of Screening Every Tumor for Microsatellite Instability

Universal screening of all tumors and Lynch-associated cancers could help identify patients and families who have an increased risk for colorectal and other cancers. Screening can also identify tumors most likely to respond to immunotherapeutics.

Genetic counselor Heather Hampel is an advocate for universal tumor screening for Lynch syndrome.

Read the Article

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“…you have tumor tests you can use to identify the patients that are more likely to have it […] And you have surveillance that really works” — Heather Hampel, MS, LGC, The Ohio State University

Do You Know Your Risk?

As many as 1 in 300 people might be carriers for the mutations associated with Lynch syndrome. A family history of an immediate family member (parent, brother, sister) or multiple family members with colorectal cancer or polyps puts you at an increased risk for the disease. Knowing your risk can help you and your healthcare professional make better, more informed decisions about your health before the onset of cancer or before a second cancer has had a chance to develop.

Genetics of Inherited Colorectal Cancer

In some families, cancer occurs more often than expected. A family history of colorectal cancer can suggest a genetic factor. There are two genetic syndromes associated with colorectal cancer, Familial Adenomatous Polyposis and Lynch Syndrome.

Familial Adenomatous Polyposis

Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) results from autosomal dominant mutations in the tumor suppressor gene, APC, and causes approximately 1% of all colon cancers. Most people develop multiple colon polyps by the age 39. If not detected and treated, these polyps will almost always develop into cancer. Typically FAP is diagnosed when your doctor finds a large number (>100) of colorectal polyps. Blood tests can be used to confirm the presence of mutations associated with FAP.

Lynch Syndrome

Lynch syndrome, or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer, is the most common form of hereditary colorectal cancer and causes roughly 3% of all colon cancers. Lynch syndrome is caused by autosomal dominant mutations to the major mismatch repair genes MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 or PMS2 as well as the EPCAM gene that inactivates MSH2. In addition to colorectal cancer, Lynch syndrome is associated with several other cancers including endometrial, ovarian and stomach cancer.

Autosomal Dominat Inheritance Pattern

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How Is Lynch Syndrome Diagnosed?

To determine if Lynch syndrome is likely, simple screening tests can be performed on tumor (cancer) tissue. The two most common tests are microsatellite instability testing (MSI) and immunohistochemistry testing (IHC) for mismatch repair proteins (MMR). The results of these tests can indicate whether more specific genetic testing should be considered.

Lynch Syndrome and MSI

High microsatellite instability (MSI-H) in tumor tissue is a hallmark of Lynch syndrome. MSI-H status indicates that certain sections of DNA called microsatellites have become unstable because the major mismatch repair genes that correct errors during DNA replication are not functioning properly. A DNA analysis test is used to determine MSI status. The test is performed on both normal and tumor tissue. If the results for the tumor differ from the normal tissue results, the tumor is considered MSI-H.

Lynch Syndrome and IHC

Immunohistochemistry is a screening test for Lynch syndrome tumors that looks for the proteins expressed by the mismatch repair (MMR) genes. If the genes are functioning properly, the proteins will be present. Absence of a mismatch repair protein increases the likelihood that Lynch syndrome is present.

Every Patient has a Story

Carrie Ketcham is a mother of two who had her first cancer diagnosis in 2009 at age 44. Five years later she was diagnosed with the hereditary condition, Lynch Syndrome, after being diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

“…part of why I went through [this] is because I didn’t know. Your knowledge is powerful, it’s gonna keep you healthy and safe” — Carrie Ketcham, Lynch Syndrome Patient

Read Carrie’s Story

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Why is it important to know your Lynch Status?

In addition to colorectal cancer, people with Lynch syndrome have an increased lifetime risk of developing certain other cancers. Because it is an inherited condition, family members might also have the condition.

“The worst part about Lynch is how many people don’t know they have it until they have cancer. If somewhere along the way it was tested…you know, a person could be spared.” – Carrie Ketcham, Lynch Syndrome Patient

Lifetime Cancer Risk Comparison

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Surveillance and Early Detection Saves Lives

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer, and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

Despite its high incidence, colorectal cancer is unique in that it is one of the most preventable and, if found early, most treatable forms of cancer. Knowing your personal medical history, including Lynch status, can help you and your family members make better informed decisions.

Local Stage

Cancer has grown into but not extended through colon wall.

Regional Stage

Cancer has spread through colon wall to nearby tissue or to nearby lymph nodes.

Distant Stage

Cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Five Year Survival Rates Based on Disease Stage at Diagnosis

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The Research Never Stops…

Exploring data, asking questions and posing new theories that will help us understand the how and why of the way things work. Because, ultimately, research is what leads to prevention, treatments and cures.

Knowledge is power.


*Up to a maximum donation of $50,000