Research to predict risk of metastasis in colorectal cancer patients and save lives

A ground-breaking research project being conducted by St John of God Subiaco Hospital’s Colorectal Cancer Research Group could allow specialists to discover new ways of predicting risk of metastasis in colorectal cancer patients and ultimately save lives.

13 Oct 2021

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide, and is a leading cause of cancer related deaths in Australia. Fortunately, through early detection, the cancer can be successfully treated with surgery and in some cases, without chemotherapy treatment. 

However, for around 10-20% of patients, the cancer can return later and spread to the liver and/or lungs, leading to poor prognosis. This spreading of cancer to a different part of the body is known as metastatic disease, or metastasis.

The research study, ‘Biomarkers in colorectal cancer metastasis’, is being led by Prof Cameron Platell, who said that to significantly improve health outcomes for patients affected by colorectal cancer, identification of risk factors for developing metastasis is critical. 

“Earlier and more accurate identification of patients in this high-risk group will allow earlier intervention and more tailored treatment plans specific to patients’ needs. Most importantly, it will ultimately result in fewer people dying from the disease,” he said. 

“We want to better understand early indicators of colorectal cancer progression, including factors that can put a patient in a high-risk group for developing metastatic disease, and if developed, where the disease is most likely to occur. 

“This will primarily involve analysis of blood samples to identify cancer exosomes (fragments of cancer cells) and DNA from cancer cells that can be detected in blood samples, as well as the body’s immune response to the cancer.” 

The study was made possible through the philanthropic support and generosity of St John of God Foundation donors, including the Tony Fini Foundation, the Iannello Family and other valued supporters.

Commenting on the donation, Tony Fini Foundation representative Nadia Lefroy said that the Tony Fini Foundation has been a great supporter of the St John of God Foundation for many years now.

“We support medical research and believe in making patients and their families’ lives more comfortable when experiencing the hardships of life.” 

Terry Iannello added that both he and his wife had been affected by cancer, which drove them to support better health outcomes for others, for generations to come. 

“Research is so important because it is the only way we can get closer to finding answers and cures.” 

St John of God Subiaco Hospital CEO Prof Shirley Bowen commented that she was greatly appreciative of the donors, whose generosity was not only making the study possible, but also contributing to St John of God Subiaco Hospital’s rich program of research. 

St John of God Foundation donors contributed over half a million dollars in the last financial year towards medical research, innovative equipment and technology, and personalised care at St John of God Subiaco Hospital. 

Generous community donations enhance St John of God Subiaco Hospital’s ability to support better health outcomes by improving quality of life and saving more lives.

Learn more about research at St John of God Subiaco Hospital