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About the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center

  • Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH, with a patient

  • The Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center is among the first centers in the country dedicated to young patients with colorectal cancer. Our Center focuses exclusively on the care of colorectal cancer patients under the age of 50. As part of the Colon and Rectal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, our specialists provide expert care and support throughout all phases of diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship, knowing that young adults face unique challenges when diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

    Our Unique Focus on Young Adults

    We understand that a diagnosis of colorectal cancer can be overwhelming at any age; for individuals under the age of 50, it can also feel quite isolating. Our Center provides young adult patients and family members with support and services that are fully integrated with our comprehensive clinical care, including:

    • A program coordinator who is dedicated solely to young adult patients. Your program coordinator focuses on your needs and oversees the scheduling of appointments and referrals and coordination of your care, making your experience as easy as possible.
    • A multidisciplinary team that reviews your specific case in an expedited way. The team consists of surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, and radiologists with specific expertise in colorectal cancers.
    • Support services that address fertility concerns, sexual health, diet and nutrition, exercise, psychological support, social work, and more.
    • A genetic evaluation to determine whether your cancer is related to a hereditary predisposition. If testing reveals a relevant genetic alteration, you will also be seen by a physician at Dana-Farber's Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention.
    • Shared young adult-focused resources throughout the Institute through support groups, forums, and Young Adult Program (YAP) activities.
    • Convenient colonoscopy screening by gastroenterologists at Brigham and Women's Hospital locations. Colonoscopy screenings are available during the week and on some Saturdays.

    Our Clinical Services

    Creating Your Personalized Treatment Plan

    As a young adult patient at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, you will receive a personalized treatment plan based on your cancer's specific genetic profile. The Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center will support the cost of sequencing the tumors of all young colorectal cancer patients through a program called GI TARGET. Our molecular tumor board will go through each patient report and make personalized recommendations for treatment that may include participation in a clinical trial. This report will be regularly updated with the latest treatment and clinical trial information for certain subsets of patients receiving active care at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center. Thus, your treatment plan is highly individualized and is based on the latest, cutting-edge information obtained through genetic sequencing of your tumor, ensuring that you get the best course of treatment that targets your specific tumor type.

    Supporting You Every Step of the Way

    In addition to offering comprehensive and personalized care, we also act as your advocate and resource specialist by connecting you with services that provide you and your loved ones with information and support through your cancer journey. These include:

    Leading the Way in Research on Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer

    Research is the centerpiece of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center. Our Center is committed to understanding the growing incidence of colorectal cancer in young adults and developing new ways to prevent, detect, and treat it. We are bringing together scientists and researchers from different disciplines across the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center to understand the risk factors and biological mechanisms involved in young-onset colorectal cancer. We are examining every angle: diet, lifestyle, the immune system, the microbiome, targeted signaling pathways, mutations, and gene expression patterns, to name a few.

    We want to partner with our patients to find answers to these complex research questions. There are many ways to get involved with a variety of studies. Participation is completely voluntary and will never affect the quality of your care.

    Learn more about our Center's research studies for colorectal cancer in young adults.

    What is Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer?

    Colorectal cancer patients 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 recently led the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) to revise its colorectal cancer screening guidelines to start earlier at age 45 instead of 50, for individuals at average risk. In the United States, 11 percent of colon cancer diagnoses, and 18 percent of rectal cancer diagnoses, occur in individuals under the age of 50. By the year 2030, colon cancer incidence is expected to double, and rectal cancer incidence is expected to quadruple in this age group.

    Learn about our comprehensive colon cancer diagnosis and treatment services at Dana-Farber.

    Learn about our comprehensive rectal cancer diagnosis and treatment services at Dana-Farber.

  • Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer: Patrick's Story
    One patient shares his story and Dana-Farber's Dr. Kimmie Ng explains how the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center aims to serve the unique needs of these younger colon and rectal cancer patients.

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  • Young Onset Colorectal Cancer Center newsletter - Winter 2022 front page

    Subscribe to our e-newsletter

    The Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center distributes an e-newsletter filled with research updates, personal stories from our brave patients, resources and helpful tips to navigate your cancer journey. All are welcome to subscribe.
    Email us to subscribe

    View the current issue

    Previous issues:

  • Psychosocial Support for Young Colorectal Patients
    The Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center is among the only in the country with dedicated psychosocial support for young patients with colorectal cancer and offers programs tailored to this age group's unique needs. Alexa Morell shares how these programs have helped her and social worker Kalen Fletcher, MSW, LICSW, gives an overview of resources and tools available.


  • Colorectal Cancer Screening: 45 is the new 50
    The colorectal cancer screening age recommendation is now 45. Dana-Farber's Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH, explains the significance and how the move is prompted by an alarming rise in cases of colorectal cancer in people younger than 50. Learn more in this press release. Video published: May 18, 2021.


  • Tips for Preventing Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer
    Our Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center experts offer important steps that you can take to prevent and detect colon cancer in its earliest forms.

  • News Coverage of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center

  • Clinical Trials Questions?

    877-DF-TRIAL
    (877-338-7425)

     

  • Support the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center

    Your support will help advance cutting-edge research and specialized care provided to patients under the age of 50 diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer. Your philanthropy can contribute towards:

    • Supporting our groundbreaking research to understand why colorectal cancer rates are rising in young people, and developing new and innovative strategies for prevention, early detection, and treatment
    • Recruiting and mentoring post-doctoral research fellows dedicated to the Center’s research studies
    • Hiring dedicated staff for the Center to help patients and their caregivers navigate their care: a Social Worker to address the specific psychosocial needs of younger adults and their caregivers, a Program and Research Coordinator, and other clinical and support staff
    • Developing new educational materials and programming, such as web and application-based support groups, and other educational opportunities aimed at connecting and empowering young patients
    • Hosting the annual Beyond CRC Forum, a one-day educational conference for individuals with young-onset colorectal cancer and their supporters. In addition to hearing about the latest research and treatment advances, participants are invited to join small interactive sessions with experts on relevant topics such as nutrition and sexual health.

    For more information about ways you can become involved with and support the Center, please contact Hillary Repucci at hillaryd_repucci@dfci.harvard.edu or 617-632-6381.