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Colon Cancer Research at the Hutchinson Center

Our mission at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is to eliminate cancer and related diseases as causes of human suffering and death. Toward fulfillment of that mission, we conduct extensive research on preventing, treating and detecting all cancers, including colon cancer. Below are just a few examples of our research in this area, or you can visit the Hutchinson Center's colon cancer disease page for more information.

Colon Cancer Screening and Detection

Dr. William Grady studies the mechanisms that cause normal colon cells to turn into cancer cells. He wants to identify the earliest detectable changes in order to develop a safe, accurate and easy way to administer a test that picks up cancer warnings signals in the DNA found in a blood or stool sample. Such a test would likely encourage more people to undergo screening and would enable limiting the use of colonoscopy to those at high risk. Grady won the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the nation's highest honor for professionals at the outset of their independent research careers.
Read more about his research

Early detection
Dr. Scott Ramsey has found that colon cancer patients whose disease is diagnosed by a routine test to detect blood in the stool have less advanced disease and significantly lower health care costs than those who were diagnosed because of symptoms.

Colon Cancer Prevention

Dr. Ulrike Peters found that women who consume more than 800 milligrams of calcium each day reduce their risk of colon cancer by as much as 26 percent compared to women who consume half that amount. It did not matter whether the calcium came from diet or supplements.
Read more about this study

Researchers in the Center's Public Health Sciences division are investigating whether the risk of colon cancer increases as lifetime exposure to sunlight decreases.

Dr. Anne McTiernan found that regular, moderate-to-vigorous exercise significantly reduces a risk factor associated with the formation of colon polyps and colon cancer in men. Men who exercised aerobically for one hour per day, six days a week for a year, showed a substantial decrease in the amount of cellular proliferation in the areas of the colon that are most vulnerable to colon cancer.
Read more about this study

Family Registry
The Hutchinson Center hosts the Seattle Colorectal Cancer Family Registry, one of six sites in an international project called the Cooperative Family Registry for Colorectal Cancer Studies. The project's ultimate goal is to investigate the ways in which genetic and environmental factors either interact with, or contribute independently to, the incidence of colon and rectal cancers.

The registry has become one of the largest collections of interview and biospecimen data, with an enrollment of more than 2,300 colorectal cancer patients, more than 5,400 of their relatives, and more than 1,900 controls. Researchers from around the world are encouraged to use this rich resource to further the long-term goals of the registry.
Learn more about this project

Colon Cancer Treatment

Effect of race
Our researchers found that the risks of advanced-stage colon cancer and death vary extensively by race. Specifically, African Americans, American Indians, Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, Hawaiians, Mexicans, South/Central Americans and Puerto Ricans were 10 percent to 60 percent more likely than non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with advanced-stage colon cancer. African Americans, American Indians, Hawaiians and Mexicans had a 20-30 percent greater risk of mortality from the disease than Caucasians.
Read more about this research

Effect of aspirin on smokers
While it is widely known that the use of aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by up to 40 percent, Hutchinson Center researchers have found that this protective effect may not extend to long-term smokers, who already face an increased risk of the disease.
Read more about this study

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Future Film Directors
against colon cancer deaths! We're pleased to reveal the five winners of the top prizes in our Get Screened! video contest. Thanks again to everyone who took up our creative challenge, which shines a spotlight on the importance of colorectal-cancer screening.

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