New research suggests that there are four genetic sub-types of bowel cancer. Researchers hope that adapting treatment to each type will lead to better outcomes.
The study was carried out by an international consortium of researchers involving scientist from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Spain, the United States and Hong Kong.
The study was funded by various different organizations, including the National Cancer Institute, La Caixa International Program for Cancer Research & Education, the Dutch Cancer Society, Worldwide Cancer Research, the European Research Council, and the United States National Institutes of Health.
Most bowel cancers are known as adenocarcinomas. The name originates from gland cells in the lining of the bowel where the cancer first develops.
The study collected the genetic details of these types of cancer cells from 4,151 people with colorectal cancer. The purpose was to reassess previously published classifications of the disease.
This clinical information coupled with how the cancers behaved allowed researchers to created four new categories: consensus molecular subtype (14%), CMS2 (37%), CMS3 (13%), CMS4 (23%).
The remaining 13% of cases did not fit into any of the categories. It is possible that they represented one category transforming into another.
These new categories could help personalize treatments to achieve better outcomes. CMS4, for example, is thought to be particularly aggressive and my benefit from extensive treatment.
More research is necessary in order to validate the results and work out which treatments are most effective for each type.
There are effective ways to reduce the risk of bowel cancer which include eating more fiber from cereals, beans, fruit and vegetables, limiting how much red meat consumed to no more than 70g a day, taking regular exercise quitting smoking and moderating the consumption of alcohol.