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  • Research home > Beat Cancer Project search > Improved screening and detection of colorectal cancer

    Improved screening and detection of colorectal cancer

    Professor Guy Maddern

    Individualised Risk Assessment and Therapeutic Intervention for Colorectal Cancer in South Australia

    Our research

    This initiative sets out to bring together a group of experienced and practicing clinicians together with an experienced translational researcher all working within the Central Adelaide Health region. This group will guide research scientists working within the scope of colorectal primary and metastatic disease. It is only by having a grasp of both ends of the cancer progression that likely improvements in care and outcomes are to be achieved. Focussing purely on the management of primary disease leaves a large number of patients without constructive input. Similarly, to ignore primary disease management is to fail to prevent the disease at an early stage. This group will be the first in South Australia to focus exclusively on colorectal cancer and its clinical and biological characteristics. As the second largest cause of malignant death in the Australian community, it is an important area of research, which has been poorly focused on in South Australia to date.

    What we aim to achieve

    Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most prevalent forms of malignancy worldwide with approximately 1 million new cases diagnosed each year, accounting for 500,000 annual deaths. Countries with the highest incidence rates include Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and parts of Europe. The stage of disease at diagnosis is the single most important predictor of prognosis and disease-free survival. It has been estimated that over 95% of cases of CRC would benefit from curative surgery if diagnosis was made at an early or premalignant polyp stage. Several large-scale studies have demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in mortality with implementation of mass CRC screening programs. Therefore, a reliable, non-invasive, cost-effective strategy for early CRC detection is a medical priority for cancer prevention and healthy ageing.

    Our next steps and milestones

    I am about to initiate some exciting projects based on a 'bed to bench' strategy in which new findings from advanced analysis of cancer patient samples will inform the design of models of the disease . In turn, this preclinical platform will generate new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for early detection and treatment of colorectal cancer and liver metastasis.

    What motivates me

    I thrive on the pursuit of knowledge. I am driven by working with brilliant researchers, attempting to answer questions together. I am motivated by learning about the work of other medical scientists who are making a difference in people’s lives.  I aspire to advance our research knowledge towards new applications in clinical medicine.

    My message to supporters

    The funding is absolutely essential for our new project. This project applies a ‘bed to bench and back’ translational approach by addressing major scientific questions and urgent clinical needs. Considering that CRC is the third most common cancer in men and the second most common in women, with 20% of patients presenting with metastatic disease. It is the fourth most common cause of cancer death, accounting for 9% worldwide. The introduction of newer chemotherapies (oxaliplatin or irinotecan) combined with fluorouracil in sequential treatment in the past decade has resulted in improvement in the median survival from 12 months to 18–21 months. However, these benefits have come at the cost of significant treatment-related toxicity. Different drugs are used to treat metastatic colorectal cancer. However, the cost of these drugs is very high and they generally prolong survival by a few months. Therefore, increasing our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying CRC metastasis by analysis of patient samples represents a national health priority to improve detection and treatment of CRC.


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