Colorectal Cancer

Investigator: Ji Qiu, Ph.D., Garrick Wallstrom, Ph.D. and Gokhan Demirkan, Ph.D.

Collaborators: Noralane M. Lindor, M.D. (Mayo Clinic)

Disease Background

Who gets it?
What are the symptoms?
How do we detect it now?
How is it currently treated?
What are the current challenges?
  • Accounts for 9.5% of all new cancer cases worldwide and is the second leading cancer killer in the US
  • Symptoms typically include rectal bleeding and anemia which are sometimes associated with weight loss and changes in bowel habits
  • There is no known cure, however when it is caught early, surgery can be curative
  • Colorectal cancer is diagnosed via tumor biopsy typically done during colonoscopy
  • Colonoscopy is recommended for individuals above 50 years old
  • Current treatments involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and medication
  • Despite the effectiveness of colonoscopy at detecting and often treating colorectal cancer early, nearly half of those eligible do not get screened
  • Thus, colon cancer is often detected too late, making it a major cancer killer.
  • A blood based test for early detection of colorectal cancer does not exist


Our Approach

Similar to many of our other projects that use NAPPA to discover autoantibodies to detect disease, this project also relies on evidence that specific biomarkers for colorectal cancer exist. We are working to identify markers in the blood that would provide a simple blood test to detect a high risk of colorectal cancer, identifying those patients who are at a greater need of further diagnostic testing.