Genetic screening for colorectal cancer and intervention

David S. Alberts, Martin Lipkin, Bernard Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


There is a complex interaction between environmental/ dietary factors and genetics underlying the pathogenesis of colon carcinogenesis. Little data exist concerning the impact of diet on the phenotypic expression of genetically linked colon cancer. As a result, it has been difficult to develop rationally designed dietary intervention studies in first-degree relatives of patients with established familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) and other familial colon cancer syndromes. Only 2 double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials have been published concerning the use of preventive strategies in patients with genetically inherited colorectal cancer syndromes, both in patients with FAP. One study evaluated the effects of vitamin C plus vitamin E with or without a high-dose wheat bran fiber supplement on the recurrence of rectal adenomas. Over a 48-month intervention period, only the wheat bran fiber intervention significantly reduced polyp growth. A second study reported that intervention with the NSAID sulindac for 9 months in young patients with FAP resulted in a significant reduction in both polyp number and size in the rectosigmoid colon. All of the large-scale (i.e., >500 randomized participants) phase III nutrient or chemopreventive agent intervention studies thus far have targeted participants with a history of non-familial, sporadic colorectal adenomas. Current clinical adenoma trials do not measure whether the regimen being tested can prevent genotoxic events occurring in early stages of abnormal cell development that contributed to the eventual formation of adenomas nor whether the agent(s) can inhibit events occurring during the progression of adenomas to carcinomas. Therefore, future clinical trial designs may have to consider (i) lengthening the clinical trial period before adenomas develop, (ii) testing at early patient ages and/or (iii) measuring the growth of adenomas as they progress to carcinomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-63
Number of pages2
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 20 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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