Help us to stop bowel cancer

Major new genes discovered for bowel cancer

A landmark study led by Professor Richard Houlston, of The Institute of Cancer Research, has discovered five potential new genes which cause bowel cancer when mutated. The research involved more than 1,000 people with bowel cancer and it is the largest of its type ever conducted. The discovery of these genes could lead to the development of new treatments for bowel cancer, as well as increasing our understanding of the biology of the disease.

Beyond the five potential new genes identified, the study also confirmed the 12 major genes that can significantly increase a person’s risk of bowel cancer. However, as the mutations were rare and only appeared in a handful of patients, further research is needed to confirm the five new genes. 

Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive, Bowel Cancer UK

“This is a landmark study that makes an important contribution to unravelling the genes behind bowel cancer. By mapping the genetic make up of the disease there is the potential for new and more effective treatments to be developed that are better tailored to the individual. In doing so we will be able to transform patient outcomes and ultimately save more lives from the UK’s second biggest cancer killer.

We already know that genetic conditions, such as Lynch syndrome, can greatly increase the risk of being diagnosed with bowel cancer by as much as 80%, so by improving our clinical understanding of the disease we will be able to better identify these patients and ensure they are given the surveillance screening they require to either prevent or detect bowel cancer early.”

Find out how we've been campaigning for improvements in access to genetic testing for people diagnosed with bowel cancer through our ‘Never Too Young’ campaign.