Each year 160,000 people in the United States will develop colorectal cancer. Understanding the basic biology of colorectal cancer development, growth and spread has led to new advances in treatment strategies leading to improved outcomes for patients. For instance, we now recognize that certain lifestyle habits such as exercise and diet can not only help prevent the development of colorectal cancer, but can decrease recurrence rates in patients with a prior history of colorectal cancer.
Our understanding of the genetic alterations that contribute to colorectal cancer development and spread has led to the development of new drugs targeting specific molecules that mediate tumor growth. However, we continuously strive to improve the outcomes for our patients, and a better understanding of the molecular biology of colorectal cancer is essential in order for us to have an even greater impact in the prevention and treatment of the disease.
At MD Anderson Cancer Center, we have developed a strong team of researchers who work closely in studying all aspects of colorectal cancer biology and therapy. Our colorectal cancer translational research team uses state-of-the-art technology to study genetic and epigenetic changes that lead to the development and growth of cancer. New techniques in genomics, proteomics, epigenetics, molecular and cellular imaging and drug discovery are leading to new breakthroughs in the prevention and therapy of this disease.
We have developed a comprehensive program where more than 1,000 colorectal cancer tissues (residual after pathologic evaluation), can be linked to the treatments and outcomes of patients (of course, maintaining patient confidentiality at all times). This powerful research tool allows basic scientists and clinical investigators to study colorectal cancers and determine if certain genetic or molecular changes are associated with overall patient outcomes, providing the foundation for new therapeutic approaches.
The collaborative environment at MD Anderson will lead to new advances in the understanding of the biology of colorectal cancer that, in turn, will lead to new prevention and treatment strategies.