NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Women that have a family history of breast cancer are often screened for the BRCA gene.
As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports, a similar inherited condition increases your risk for colon cancer. Knowing if you have the genetic mutation can help with early detection and even cancer prevention.
Before Jay McDaniel learned he had colon cancer, he already knew the disease ran in his family.
“I had already lost my father, his brother, three of his sisters and his father,” he said. “I never knew my grandfather. This disease will catch you at an early age.”
But McDaniel has more than just a family history. He has lynch syndrome, an inherited gene mutation that predisposes him to several types of cancer.
One of his daughters inherited the disorder from him, too.
“This is a syndrome where the cancers are extremely preventable, and so it’s critical that we find people who have this condition, because we can save their lives,” said Heather Hampel, of Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center.
If lynch syndrome is detected early, a patient can begin more frequent cancer screenings and colon cancer can actually be prevented if pre-cancerous polyps are found and removed.
So researchers at the James Cancer Hospital used a one-step test to screen for multiple tumor mutations simultaneously. This simpler method of gene testing was more effective in identifying lynch syndrome than previous methods.
“I think that this test is really the future for treating not just colon and uterine cancer, but probably all cancers,” Hampel said.
The new testing method resulted in a 10 percent improvement in lynch syndrome detection rates.
“This information is important not just for their future cancer risks, their family members’ cancer risks, but as we’re starting to learn, it actually can change the treatment for their current cancer,” said Hampel.
Having data on every gene can also help doctors better target cancer treatment in patients like McDaniel, who recently completed three months of immunotherapy and his cancer is in remission.