Gene variant linked to colon cancer survival

"This work shows the potential use of genetic variants to help provide clinically useful information to patients suffering from colon cancer," says Lee Campbell. (Credit: "blood samples" via Shutterstock)

A new study is the first to show that common inherited genetic variants influence life expectancy in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC).

A team from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine analyzed over 7,600 patients with CRC from 14 different centers across the UK and the US. They found that a genetic variant in the gene CDH1 (encoding E-cadherin) was strongly linked to survival.

Having combined data of both inherited genetic variations and variations found within the cancers, the scientists believe that the resulting information will play a crucial role in managing patient survival.

“Our findings show that patients carrying a specific genetic variant, which is found in about 8 percent of patients, have worse survival, with a decrease in life expectancy of around four months in the advanced disease setting,” says study leader Professor Jeremy Cheadle.

“This work shows the potential use of genetic variants to help provide clinically useful information to patients suffering from colon cancer,” says Lee Campbell, science projects and research communications manager from Cancer Research Wales, which part-funded the study.

“Not only does this important piece of research allow clinicians to make more informed treatment decisions for individuals in future, but also has the capability to enhance existing screening or post-operative surveillance programs for this disease.”

“This represents a critical first step to improving colorectal cancer patient outcomes through a greater understanding of the influencing genetic factors,” adds Ian Lewis, director of research and policy at Tenovus Cancer Care.

The Bobby Moore Fund from Cancer Research UK, Tenovus Cancer Care, the Kidani Trust, Cancer Research Wales, and the National Institute for Social Care and Health Research Cancer Genetics Biomedical Research Unit (2011-2015) supported the work.

The findings are available in Clinical Cancer Research.

Source: Cardiff University