Saturday, February 18, 2012

Free Colon Cancer Testing Kits Available In March

Genesis Health System has released a great offer to those who would like to be tested for colon cancer in four cities of New Mexico.  Hopefully, this trend of free colon testing will expand to many other states in the U.S.

Anyone 50 years old or older, or those with other factors associated with an increased risk of colon cancer, are encouraged to pick up and return a free colon cancer testing kit in the Quad Cities during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March.

The kits are provided free of charge as long as supplies last. This annual screening is sponsored by Genesis Health System, Walgreens Drug Stores, Illini Laboratory and the American Cancer Society. Completed kits should be mailed to the Illini Laboratory. Participants will have results mailed to them within four weeks.

The kits are designed to detect small amounts of hidden blood that can indicate early problems with polyps or cancer before other symptoms are apparent. Anyone with a positive test should contact their family physician and ask about a colonoscopy.

According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 143,500 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2012 and nearly 51,000 will die from the disease. Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death for men and women combined.

Both men and women are at risk for colon cancer and more lives could be saved if people better understood the risks of the disease and received regular testing.

Screening and colonoscopy are the most effective ways to prevent colon cancer from developing. Most cases of the disease begin as non-cancerous polyps, which are growths on the lining of the colon and rectum. These polyps can become cancerous.

Removing polyps during a colonoscopy can prevent colorectal cancer from developing. Approximately 90 percent of colorectal cancers and deaths are thought to be preventable. Because there are often no symptoms to polyps, it is important to be routinely screened.

or more information on colon cancer, including risk factors, prevention options, and early detection methods, please call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit

Free kits can be picked up at the following locations in March, or until supplies last:

Walgreens Drug Stores

Bettendorf: 830 Middle Road, 3425 Middle Road; Clinton: 806 S. 4th St., 1905 N. 2nd St.; Davenport: 1805 Brady St., 1720 West Kimberly; 1525 East Kimberly, 1660 West Locust St., 4011 East 53rd St.; East Moline: 301 30th Ave.; 1301 Ave. of the Cities; Moline: 3601 16th St., 555 19th Ave.; 4000 Ave. of the Cities; Milan: 440 10th Ave. West; Muscatine:1703 Park Ave; Rock Island: 3100 11th St.; 2955 18th Ave.

Other Pick-Up Locations

Genesis Cancer Care Institute, 1351 West Central Park, Davenport; Genesis Medical Center, Illini Campus, 801 Illini Drive, Silvis; Illini Laboratory, 801 Illini Drive, Silvis; Genesis Medical Center, DeWitt, 1118 11th Street, DeWitt; Genesis Medical Center, Davenport, West Campus Information Desks; Genesis Medical Center, Davenport, East Campus Information Desks; Jackson County Regional Health Center, Maquoketa; Mercer County Hospital, Aledo, Ill; American Cancer Society Discovery Shop, 2397 Cumberland Square, Bettendorf.

Risk Factors

Both men and women are at risk for colon cancer. Personal risk varies, so your doctor can help you make informed decisions about when to begin testing and the most appropriate testing method for you. Factors associated with increased risk for colon cancer include:

  • Age – most diagnosed are 50 or older.
  • Race – African Americans are at greater risk.
  • Personal or family history of colon cancer.
  • Personal or family history of intestinal polyps.
  • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative or Crohn’s colitis).
    • Certain genetic factors (familial adenomatous polyposis, Gardner’s syndrome, hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, Ashkenazi Jewish descent).
    • Smoking, or use of other tobacco products.
    • Physical inactivity.
    • Diets high in red meat.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Important Cancer Findings For Women Concerning Breast Cancer

Hundreds of more breast cancer patients should be tested for the BRAC1 gene mutation test.  What exactly is the BRAC1?  It is is a human caretaker gene that produces a protein called breast cancer type 1 susceptibility protein, responsible for repairing DNA.  BRCA1 is expressed in the cells of breast and other tissue, where it helps repair damaged DNA, or destroy cells if DNA cannot be repaired. If BRCA1 itself is damaged, damaged DNA is not repaired properly and this increases risks for cancers.

A BRCA mutation is a mutation in either of the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. Harmful mutations in these genes produce a hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome in affected families. Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 are uncommon, and breast cancer is relatively common, so these mutations consequently account for only five to ten percent of all breast cancer cases in women.

BRCA Testing Kit and Where the BRCA Gene is Located

The researchers – funded by Cancer Research UK and led by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research – looked at more than 300 with TN and found BRCA1 mutations in nearly one in five women diagnosed under 50.
But due to the cost of testing for the BRCA1 mutation, NICE guidance recommends that BRCA1 should be offered if the likelihood of detecting a mutation is greater than 20 per cent, although many testing centres offer it if the likelihood is between 10-20 per cent.
Centres use a range of criteria and methods to determine if a patient is eligible for testing. But this requires specialist knowledge and software and potentially misses hundreds of women a year.
Based on their findings the researchers estimate more than one in three women with TN breast cancer caused by BRCA1 mutations would not have been tested using the current criteria.
Lead author Professor Nazneen Rahman, a Cancer Research UK funded researcher at the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital, said: “Our findings show that women diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer under 50 should be offered BRCA1 testing. Using a simple age criteria for testing will provide a clear and understandable guide for doctors and women to follow, and should result in many more women benefitting from the optimised care that genetic information makes possible.”
Changing the current testing guidelines could mean an extra 1,200 tests a year, which the researchers acknowledge will place an extra burden on current services.
Professor Rahman added: “There are hurdles to overcome so that NHS testing services can cope with more BRCA1 testing, but we’re moving towards an era of faster and cheaper genetic testing, so it will soon be possible.”
Women carrying the BRCA1 mutation have up to a 65 per cent chance of developing breast cancer by the time they are 70. But only around one in 900 women in the general population carry a BRCA1 mutation.
Breast cancers with BRCA1 mutations can respond well to treatment with platinum-based drugs, such as carboplatin and cisplatin, and also to radiotherapy. But they can develop resistance to the treatment and start to grow again.
Rowena Kincaid, 36, from Cardiff, was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2009 after finding a lump. It was confirmed as triple negative and she underwent a lumpectomy followed by four months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She is now doing well, is back at work and took part in Race for Life in 2011.
She said: “I am interested to know about the genetic testing, as I know there has been cancer in the family. To be offered the chance to find out if I carry the BRCA1 mutation would not only give me insight to my own disease but also allow me and my family to discuss with our doctors if we carry the mutation what the next steps would be.” Professor Peter Johnson, chief clinician at Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s important that we identify women and their families who carry BRCA1 mutations. They’re more likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer, so armed with this knowledge doctors can offer targeted screening and tailored treatments to these women.
“The NHS needs to adapt so that tests for BRCA1 can be offered to women who are likely to carry the mutation. This approach will be cost-effective for the NHS in the long-term, leading to a substantial reduction in the number of breast and ovarian cancers by offering preventative treatments for those women and their families who are at greatest risk.”
More information: L. Robertson et al BRCA1 testing should be offered to individuals with triple-negative breast cancer diagnosed below 50 years British Journal of Cancer (2012). doi:10.1038/bjc.2012.31