Dana-Farber Launches Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center
Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center recently announced the launch of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center in Boston. The Center will provide expert, compassionate, and cutting-edge care to young adult patients with colon and rectal cancer, with a focus on scientific discovery and research.
Patients with colorectal cancer 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%, according to the National Cancer Institute. The rising incidence has recently led the American Cancer Society to revise its colorectal screening guidelines to start earlier at age 45, instead of age 50, for individuals at average risk.
Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH
“By the year 2030, colon cancer is estimated to rise 90% and rectal cancer to rise by a staggering 124% in these young patients,” said Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH, Director of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center. “This highlights the urgency of trying to identify new ways to prevent, treat, and catch these cancers earlier, at a curable stage.”
Ron Bleday, MD
“The Center will address the unique issues faced by these young patients, including therapies that affect fertility,” said Ron Bleday, MD, Co-Director of the Colon and Rectal Cancer Center and Chief of the Division of Colorectal Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “We will offer molecular testing to determine the best course of treatment for our patients, and, if genetically related, screening for family members is available.”
All patients with young-onset colon and rectal cancer will have their tumor sequenced, through a program called GI TARGET, to identify their cancer’s specific genetic profile. A molecular tumor board will then go through each patient report and make personalized recommendations for treatment.
One of the first of its kind nationally, the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center provides young adult patients and family members with the following services:
- A program coordinator who is dedicated solely to young adult patients and focuses on the patients’ needs, oversees the scheduling of appointments and referrals, and serves as a direct point of contact with the treatment team for coordination of care
- A multidisciplinary treatment team that reviews each specific case in an expedited way. The team consists of surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, and radiologists with specific expertise in colorectal cancer.
- Support services that address fertility concerns, sexual health, diet and nutrition, exercise, psychological support, and more
- A genetic evaluation to determine whether the cancer is related to a genetic predisposition. If testing reveals a relevant genetic alteration, the patient will also be seen by a physician at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention.
- Colonoscopy screening services, including weekend screening appointments, available once a month on Saturdays at the Chestnut Hill location of the Brigham Health Endoscopy Center
- Shared young adult–focused resources throughout the Institute through support groups, forums, and Young Adult Program activities.
The Center will bring together scientists and researchers from different disciplines across the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center to examine young-onset colorectal cancer from every angle: diet, lifestyle, the immune system, the microbiome, targeted signaling pathways, mutations, and gene-expression patterns, to name a few. ■