Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers (a research collaboration that includes University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and Case Western Reserve Universit), who last year identified new gene mutations virtually unique to colon cancers in African Americans, have now found that tumors with these mutations are highly aggressive and more likely to recur and metastasize. These findings may partly explain why African Americans have the highest incidence and death rates of any group for this disease. The study has been published online and will be printed in the December 2016 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) by members of the research team that, a year ago, found 15 genes in African Americans that are rarely or never detected as mutated in colon cancers from Caucasians. The current study investigated the outcomes associated with these mutations in African American colorectal cancer. The researchers examined 66 patients who had stage I - III colorectal cancer and found that those patients positive for the mutations had an almost three times higher rate of metastatic disease, and stage III patients positive with mutations were nearly three times more likely to relapse compared to patients without the mutations. The new article is titled “Adverse Clinical Outcome Associated with Mutations That Typify African American Colorectal Cancers." "This study is significant because it helps shed further light on why colorectal cancers are more aggressive in African Americans compared to other groups," said the study's senior author, Joseph E. Willis, M.D., Chief of Pathology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Professor of Pathology at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.
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