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Experts at Mayo Clinic Fight Cancer by Correlating to a Rare Genetic Condition

August 23, 2022 by Eden Metzger
(Mayo Clinic)

ROCHESTER, Minn. — A rare genetic disease called Familial Adenomatous Polyposis is being researched by professionals at Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine in order to stop deaths from colorectal cancer. 

“Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. and a precursor for this cancer is the development of polyps in the colon,” notes Niloy Jewel Samadder, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. According to the American Cancer Society, there were 52,580 colorectal cancer deaths reported in 2022. Samadder explains that FAP is due to the spread of colorectal polyps or growths along the colon, if not properly examined these polyps can lead to cancer. 

“The biological pathway that leads to the development of polyps and colon cancer in patients with FAP is the same biological pathway as patients in the general population,” Samadder said. “Our trial looked at opportunities to use chemoprevention agents in patients with FAP to inhibit the development of precancerous polyps in the small bowel and colorectum.”

Experts have examined cancer pathways or The Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor. According to the National Cancer Institute, EFGRs are responsible for spreading and protecting proteins in the body. If EFGRs mutate, they can aid cancer cells by fueling and multiplying cancer cells. 

Medical professionals have reported that the drug erlotinib has been a helpful tool when fighting  EFGRs as it has produced a 30% reduction in the polyps that form on the bowel of those suffering with FAP. 

“We are now studying whether these findings can be expanded to the broader patient population that has either genetic or other risk factors that increase their chances of developing small bowel or colorectal cancer,” concludes Samadder.

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