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Hoag Launches Research Study to Identify More People at Increased Genetic Risk for Colorectal Cancer

Categories: Press Room

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., February 25, 2020 --- Hereditary colorectal cancer is as common as hereditary breast cancer, but there’s far less attention around it. Early detection of increased risk for hereditary colorectal cancer through genetic testing provides patients opportunities to prevent cancer or detect it early. In a new research study to determine whether more people should receive genetic testing for colorectal cancer than current guidelines recommend, Hoag Family Cancer Institute—with the support of Ambry Genetics®, a leading clinical genetic testing lab – will offer individuals who meet expanded guidelines the opportunity to participate in early/preventive genetic testing for colorectal cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, only 39 percent of people with colorectal cancer are diagnosed early. People who receive diagnoses and begin treatments at early stages have a 90 percent chance of beating colorectal cancer. Genetic testing helps identify these high-risk patients, and through this study, Hoag investigators will aim to determine whether genetic testing should be recommended more often than current guidelines indicate.

“By identifying the genetic risks for patients early on, we can be vigilant about routine screenings and help them take steps to lower their risks of cancer by detecting and removing precancerous growths,” said Michael Demeure, M.D., program director of Precision Medicine at Hoag.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and nearly 10 percent of colorectal cancer cases are due to inherited genetic mutations that increase the patients’ susceptibilities to developing it.

Routine screening colonoscopies are recommended for men and women beginning at age 50, but people with strong family histories of colorectal cancer should be screened earlier and more frequently.

“Early detection can make all the difference in the world to defeat colorectal cancer,” said Virginia Speare, manager of Clinical Collaborations at Ambry Genetics. “We hope this study indicates how we can expand access to genetic testing to identify more high-risk people.”

Through the study, people who present for routine colonoscopy screening will receive an assessment of genetic risk and an evaluation of study inclusion criteria. Three hundred of these individuals who meet this criterion (but otherwise would not meet current recommendation guidelines) will be offered genetic testing as part of the IRB-approved study. Hoag’s certified genetic counselors will provide comprehensive genetic counseling enabling participants to fully understand their personal genetic-risk and the potential increased risks for close family members.

“Colorectal cancer can largely be avoided if routine proper screening takes place,” said Jeanne Homer, M.S., coordinator of the Hoag Hereditary Cancer Program and principal investigator of the research study. “At Hoag, our goal is to give individuals with a family history the information and resources to take care of their health.”


Hoag is an approximately $1 billion nonprofit, regional health care delivery network in Orange County, California, that treats more than 30,000 inpatients and 480,000 outpatients annually. Hoag consists of two acute-care hospitals – Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, which opened in 1952, and Hoag Hospital Irvine, which opened in 2010 – in addition to nine health centers and 13 urgent care centers. Hoag is a designated Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Hoag offers a comprehensive blend of health care services that includes five institutes providing specialized services in the following areas: cancer, heart and vascular, neurosciences, women’s health, and orthopedics through Hoag’s affiliate, Hoag Orthopedic Institute, which consists of an orthopedic hospital and two ambulatory surgical centers. Hoag has been named one of the Best Regional Hospitals in the 2019 - 2020 U.S. News & World Report. For an unprecedented 23 years, residents of Orange County have chosen Hoag as one of the county’s best hospitals in a local newspaper survey. Visit www.hoag.org for more information.

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