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Disease center opens to fight colorectal cancer

A CENTER to identify people at high risk of colorectal cancer was established in the city yesterday.

It will offer genetic checks to detected those at high risk of cancer of the colon and rectum so they can receive early treatment.

The center, based at Xinhua Hospital, will employ experts from six large local hospitals and will also carry out research into the disease.

The incidence of colorectal cancer is increasing by 2 percent a year in Shanghai, experts said. Every year, about 5,000 local people are found to have the cancer, which has risen from the seventh most severe cancer to the second leading cancer in the city after lung cancer.

"About 20 to 30 percent of colorectal cancer is genetically inherited," said Cui Long, director of the center. "Several major genes related to colorectal cancer have been identified. A blood test can help doctors find these genes and give patients early direction."

The risk of getting colorectal cancer is tripled if a relative has the disease, as family members may have inherited one of two rare genetic conditions, called FAP and HNPCC.

FAP is caused by mutations of a tumor suppressor gene. People who inherit a mutated form of this gene develop small growths in their colon and almost all such cases develop into colorectal cancer at around the age of 50 unless treated early.

HNPCC is caused by mutations in one of several genes that fix damaged DNA. People who inherit one of these mutations have a much greater risk of accumulating mutations that will lead to colorectal cancer and also ovarian cancer and cancer of the stomach, brain and small intestine.

"All local city-level hospitals can identify these bad genes through one blood test," Cui said. "The key is to arouse people's awareness and have them receive checkups as early as possible."

Even for people with a low risk of colorectal cancer, doctors suggest regular checks at least once a year for early detection.


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