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June 4, 2008

Familial Colorectal Cancer: A Genetics Treasure Trove for Medical Discovery

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois. Dr Pasche is also Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2008;299(21):2564-2565. doi:10.1001/jama.299.21.2564

Cancers of the colon and rectum are among the leading causes of cancer deaths worldwide, accounting for 1 million new cases in 2002 and representing 9.4% of the world total.1 In 2006, more than 148 000 new cases were diagnosed in the United States, accounting for 10.4% of all cancers.2 Despite the increased use of screening strategies to identify early stage, more curable colorectal cancers and the availability of novel therapeutic agents, more than one-third of patients with colorectal cancer will eventually die of uncontrolled metastatic spread within a few years of diagnosis. In 2006, 55 000 individuals died of colorectal cancer in the United States, which established colorectal cancer as the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men and the third for women.2