ROCHESTER, Minn. -- An abnormality of chromosomes long associated with diseases of aging has, for the first time, been linked to colon cancer in people 50 years old and younger, an age group usually considered young for this disease.
The finding may provide an early alert for younger patients with colon cancer and could prompt new research into colon cancer prevention and treatment strategies, say Mayo Clinic researchers.
The study results will be presented at 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, during the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics in San Diego.
The Mayo Clinic team led by Lisa Boardman, M.D., a specialist in gastrointestinal malignancies, investigated the structures inside of cells known as telomeres, which are the caps on the ends of chromosomes that keep chromosomes from unraveling. Telomeres naturally shorten with aging and are associated with many diseases of aging, including cancer. Shortened telomeres have been found in colon cancer tumor cells, but this study links these telomeres to colon cancer.
Dr. Boardman and an interdisciplinary group of researchers examined the DNA in blood samples of 114 colon cancer patients 50 years old and younger and 98 people with no history of cancer. They found that the colon cancer patients had abnormal telomeres that were unusually short, particularly for a group of patients considered young for colon cancer: patients in the study were about 15 years younger than the average age of patients with colon cancer. In addition, colon cancer in this younger group affected men more often than women.
Colon cancer, also called colorectal cancer or bowel cancer, includes cancerous growths in the colon, rectum and appendix. Its the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, affecting nearly 145,000 people each year. The first cases tend to appear in people in their 40s, but most patients tend to be in their mid 60s by the time they are diagnosed. <
|Contact: Amy Reyes|