Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Genetic Basis for Colorectal Cancer Found

Some Patients Have Changes on a Specific Gene
WebMD Health News

Nov. 2, 2004 -- Mutations on a certain gene may raise the risk of colorectal cancer, which could partially explain why the disease runs in some families, according to a new study.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common kind of cancer and the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in North America, say the researchers, including Steven Gallinger, MD, MSc, FRCS, of Canada's Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

Because up to 20% of colorectal cancer patients have a family history of the disease, Gallinger and colleagues looked for a genetic basis to that pattern. Specifically, they focused on two mutations on a gene called the MutY human homologue (MYH).

The researchers recruited more than 2,400 participants, half of whom had colorectal cancer. Participants were screened for the two MYH mutations.

Carriers of either mutation had twice the risk of colorectal cancer as those with no such mutations, the researchers write in the Nov. 3 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Patients with either or both mutations had a mean age at diagnosis that was significantly younger than those without the gene mutations. They were also more likely to have a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) or a second-degree relative (such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle) with colorectal cancer.

Not all colorectal cancer patients have either or both mutations. In addition, the mutations don't automatically mean that someone will develop colorectal cancer.

The researchers call for larger studies on the topic. Meanwhile, they say the risk associated with the mutations should be considered in genetic testing and could also help in colonoscopy screening recommendations for high-risk people.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
bladder cancer x-ray
Do you know the warning signs?
Colon vs Rectal Cancer
New Colorectal Treatments
can lack of sleep affect your immune system
Cancer Facts Quiz
Virtual Colonoscopy
Picture of the Colon
Vitamin D