Study: Gene Variations Linked to Increased Risk of Colorectal Cancer

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SEATTLE—An international research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has identified variations in four genes that are linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Colleagues from 40 institutes throughout the world published their findings online ahead of the April print issue of Gastroenterology.

The team was co-led by cancer prevention researcher Ulrike “Riki" Peters, PhD, MPH, and biostatistician Hsu Li, PhD. Peters and colleagues for the past four years have been studying the genes linked to colorectal cancer through the Genetics and Epidemiology of Colorectal Cancer Consortium, a collaboration involving researchers from North America, Australia and Europe who have pooled data from approximately 40,000 study participants, about half of whom have colorectal cancer. Fred Hutch houses GECCO’s coordinating center and Peters is its principal investigator.

The genomewide-association study was conducted in two phases. The first involved rapidly scanning complete sets of blood DNA from 12,696 people with colorectal cancer or a precancerous condition called adenoma. This data was then compared to the same set of variants from 15,113 healthy controls of European descent.

Of 2.7 million genetic variants identified, the 10 most statistically significant mutations associated with colorectal cancer were then further analyzed in a follow-up genomewide-association study of 3,056 colorectal cancers or adenomas and colon-tissue samples from 6,658 healthy controls of European and Asian descent.

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