Colorectal cancer is the second most common internal cancer in the developed world, with similar incidence rates for both men and women. This type of cancer results in approximately 4,000 deaths in Australia every year, making it the second leading cause of cancer death. 14,000 new cases are diagnosed each year with 20 % being diagnosed before the age of 50.
Colorectal cancer is usually preceded by polyps on the colon wall. There are certain conditions that increase the risk of polyps and subsequent colorectal cancer, for example serrated (hyperplastic) polyposis and Lynch syndrome.
Our research focuses on:
- understanding how polyps and cancers form in the wall of the colon
- searching for genes that cause colon cancer in families. Genetic susceptibility accounts for 15 % of all colorectal cancers
- identifying the risk factors for colorectal cancer, especially in young people.
Recent research has found:
- Australian-first study designed to prioritise high-risk patients on the waiting list for a colonoscopy
- smoking increases polyp numbers in people with serrated polyposis (a condition which makes people more susceptible to colorectal cancer)
- a link between northern European ancestry and serrated polyposis
- increased risk of colon cancer in relatives of people with serrated polyposis.