Patient-centered research initiatives highlighted during Colorectal Cancer Awareness month at Dana-Farber

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  • Patients invited to participate in The Beyond CRC Project and The Colorectal Cancer Project
  • Craig Melvin, anchor on NBC News Today and colorectal cancer awareness advocate, will deliver keynote address at Dana-Farber’s Beyond CRC Patient and Family Forum

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and is on track to become the leading cause of cancer death in people aged 20-49 by 2030. During Colorectal Cancer Awareness month in March, The Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center remains committed to accelerating the pace of research with patient-centered opportunities as well as providing important educational events to help patients and their supporters.

The alarming rise of colorectal cancer in people younger than 50 prompted a landmark change in screening guidelines in May 2021, when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force lowered the colorectal cancer screening age for average-risk individuals to 45. Previously it was 50. Noting this is an important move, Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH, the director of Dana-Farber’s Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center, says additionally, bold steps and research are both needed to see meaningful decreases in young-onset colorectal cancer incidence and mortality.

Dana-Farber’s Beyond CRC research project (Better Understanding of Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer) aims to compile statistically powerful clinical and treatment data and biological samples, as well as a comprehensive big-picture look at diet and lifestyle choices across many young patients with colorectal cancer from several participating sites around the U.S. and globally. This large-scale study is critical research for identifying the underlying biological mechanisms of colorectal cancer cells, identifying risk factors for developing colorectal cancer at a young age, and facilitating the development of new therapy options.

The Colorectal Cancer Project, which is part of the Count Me In research initiative, allows any patient in the U.S. or Canada diagnosed with colorectal cancer at any age and stage to share de-identified health data directly with colorectal cancer researchers to accelerate the pace of research. Patients who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer at any point in their lives can join the project by visiting Researchers from Dana-Farber, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard will use this information to generate clinical, genomic, molecular, and patient-reported databases.

“These cancers are often developing in otherwise young and healthy people who have no risk factors,” said Ng, who is also the co-scientific leader of the Colorectal Cancer Project. “Both Beyond CRC and The Colorectal Cancer Project will provide valuable data to accelerate the search for answers and solutions to why these rates are rising.”

Notable Dana-Farber events during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month:

Beyond CRC Patient and Family Forum: Better Understanding of Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer

  • Guest speaker Craig Melvin, MSNBC and TODAY Anchor and NBC News Correspondent, kicks off this month-long series of free education events for individuals with young-onset colorectal cancer and their supporters. He will lead a virtual discussion addressing his family’s experience with young-onset colorectal cancer and efforts to raise colorectal cancer awareness. Since 2017, when his brother Lawrence Meadows was diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer at age 39, Melvin has been a national advocate for colorectal cancer awareness. Meadows passed away in December 2020 at 43.
  • Additional events in this series include a research keynote session on immunotherapy and the role of the immune system in colorectal cancer, an expert panel on the role of genomics in young-onset colorectal cancer, and an interactive session on the critical role of social work in navigating a diagnosis of young-onset colorectal cancer.

Registration is required:

Dress in Blue Day March 4th

  • Patients, supporters and advocates will ‘Go Blue’ on March 4th, as part of nationwide #DressInBlueDay to further raise awareness about this disease
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute will mark the day by illuminating our Healing Garden in blue lights, visible in the evening from Brookline Ave. and Joslin Pl., Boston.

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Colon Cancer
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