Genetics, Early Detection, and Prevention of Gastrointestinal Cancers
Basic laboratory research, technology, and the pharmaceutical industry are creating a vast array of new diagnostic tests and potential therapies for cancer. Our research program focuses on studying the effectiveness of these technologies with the goal of providing individuals and their physicians with new cancer-prevention tools that include clarification of personal risk, primary prevention, novel screening techniques, and new chemotherapeutic agents.
One of the main goals of our research group is to evaluate the impact of genetic discoveries as tools for cancer risk assessment. We have designed a web-based risk assessment tool called PREMM which providers can use at no cost to determine the utility of recommending genetic testing for Lynch syndrome. Currently, we are piloting a self-administered version of this tool to patients in a primary care practice with the aim of promoting a patient-centered approach to the management of hereditary colon cancer syndromes. We are also working on expanding this clinical prediction model to include other hereditary colon cancer syndromes.
Our group is also interested in evaluating novel genetic and other biomarkers for early cancer detection as well as cancer prevention modalities. As part of the National Cancer Institute's Early Cancer Detection Research Network, we are participating in an ongoing multicenter study evaluating novel serum biomarkers for early colon cancer detection. In addition, we are also part of a multicenter clinical trial evaluating a pharmacological agent that may defer the need for surgical intervention in patients with known Familial Adenomatous Polyposis syndrome.
Since expanding our research to include the genetics and early detection of pancreatic cancer, we have developed the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Pancreatic Cancer Genes Study registry, which collects data on family history and epidemiologic risk factors, as well as DNA and tissue samples. We are a funded site for the National Cancer Institute Pancreatic Cancer Genetic Epidemiologic Consortium study, whose mission is to identify susceptibility genes for pancreatic cancer to improve risk assessment and early detection.