Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH, the director of The Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, received a grant from the Colorectal Cancer Alliance for a study on the microbiome and anti-tumor immunity in patients with young-onset colorectal cancer. The three-year grant totaling $300,000 is made possible through the Chris4Life Research Program.
Patients with colorectal cancer are considered young-onset if they are diagnosed before they turn 50 years old. Since 1994, cases of young-onset colorectal cancer have increased by 51 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute. The rising incidence of young-onset colorectal cancer has led the United States Preventive Services Task Force to recently release updated draft recommendations for lowering the colorectal cancer screening age to 45, instead of 50. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women in the United States, and the second leading cause of cancer death.
“The underlying causes of young-onset colorectal cancer are currently unknown, but we suspect that dietary and environmental factors may be influencing the microbiome, leading to increasing rates among young individuals,” said Ng. “This grant from the Colorectal Cancer Alliance will support a large research effort to further investigate the impact of the microbiome on development of colorectal cancer in patients across the spectrum of young age, compared to older patients with colorectal cancer.”
The Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center is among the first centers in the country dedicated to treating patients with colon and rectal cancers under age 50. The center brings together scientists and researchers from different disciplines across the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center to examine young-onset colorectal cancer from every angle: diet, lifestyle, the immune system, the microbiome, targeted signaling pathways, mutations, and gene expression patterns, to name a few.