New research could help in earlier detection of colon cancer. Researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research explain why and findings could lead to earlier diagnosis of these cancers and efficient outcome.


Colon cancer is the third leading common cause of cancer deaths for men and women, in America, killing 65,000 each year. But life expectancy can be improved with an early detection. People with the earliest stage of colon cancer have a 5-year survival rate of 90 percent and those whose cancer is discovered in the latest stage have an 8 percent rate. The study was published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Colonoscopy is the most traditional method of colon cancer screening in which doctors use a flexible scope to examine the colon. Certain cancer-causing polyps sometimes missed during these examinations.

David Jones, Ph.D., who holds the Jeanine Rainbolt Chair for Cancer Research at OMRF said, “Some polyps are embedded in the surface of the colon, and they’re also flat and covered up.” This creates difficulty in examinations for doctors, according to Jones.

Jones also added that this difficult to search polyps could be responsible for up to 30 to 40 percent of colon cancers that develop later. Jones analyzed the genetic composition of the hidden polyps along with a researchers’ team and he said, “Most cancers—and most polyps—need more than one mutation to form. However, in these polyps, only one gene, called BRAF, was mutated.”

“The next phase is to look at how the changes in BRAF cause this cascade leading to cancer,” according to Jones. “This was a huge step in the right direction that could have clinical relevance for patients in a meaningful way.”