New risk score could help determine likelihood of colorectal cancer

Researchers at NYU Langone Health in New York City hope their work shows that identifying risk for colorectal cancer does not have to be a guessing game.

A new way of determining the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer for those younger than 50 was created by those scientists, and a study based on their research was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on Jan. 13. It compared 3,486 adults younger than 50 who developed bowel cancer between 1990 and 2010 with 3,890 similar men and women without the disease, according to a Jan. 27 press release.

The score is based on a combination of two calculations. The first shows how likely a person is to develop cancers in the digestive tract organs based on polygenic risk or changes in the DNA code, which makes them more susceptible. The second calculation is derived from lifestyle factors such as smoking habits and fiber intake. The score is a number between zero and one.

The study concluded that those with the highest and top-third combined risk scores were four times more likely to develop colorectal cancer than women and men with bottom-third scores.

Richard Hayes, DDS, PhD, a professor in the departments of Population Health and Environmental Medicine at NYU and one of the lead researchers, said the score is not ready for clinical use.

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