Colon Cancer Patients With Family History Survive Better

Armen Hareyan's picture

Colon cancer patients with family history have better survival rates when receiving on time treatment compared to those with no family history of colon cancer.

A team of researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute examined 1087 colon cancer patients who had received treatment such as surgery or chemotherapy. 18% of patients reported that they have a parent or a sibling with the disease, meaning that these patients have a family history.

Those patients with colon cancer family history have twice as higher risk for developing the disease than those without the family history of colon cancer, but at the same time they have 28% lower risk for recurring the disease. The patients were followed during 5.6 years and all patients with family history still showed 51% lower risk for developing new tumors or dying from the disease.


"This news may be reassuring to people with a family history, but our hope is that we can discover what underlies this effect of family history in biological terms," said Dr. Jennifer Chan from Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology at Dana-Farber.

According to American Cancer Society predictions, in 2008 there will be about 153000 newly diagnosed colon cancer cases and about 50000 people will die from the disease. 11% of all colon cancer patients have a family history of the disease, with at least one parent or sibling suffering from the disease.

Researchers are still unable to explain the link between the colon cancer with family history and the one occurring surprisingly. However, this study gives the idea that the two types of the colon cancer are biologically different. Further studies are needed to clearly understand this difference and probably find new ways for better treatment. If colon cancer with family history helps researchers to uncover the genetic code of the disease, it will be possible to develop better chemotherapy and to improve quality of life for patients.

Reference for Colon Cancer from CDC.