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A Plan of Attack Against Colon Cancer

New Northwestern Medicine clinic helps high-risk patients battle signs of colon cancer

March 24, 2011 | by Erin Spain

CHICAGO --- A new clinic at Northwestern Medicine is helping patients who are a high risk of developing colon cancer create a personalized plan of attack against the often deadly disease.

The High Risk Colorectal Cancer Clinic is open to patients young and old, who are colon cancer survivors, have family history of the disease or have other high-risk factors. Patients receive procedures and treatments as well as personalized recommendations that will help increase their chances of survival.

“For some, it’s just a one-time meeting, while others receive ongoing surveillance, long-term care and access to nutritionists, clinical psychologists and genetic counselors,” said Barbara H. Jung, M.D., director of the clinic. Jung is also, an assistant professor in the department of gastroenterology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, a gastroenterologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Nutritionists offer dietary information that may help fight cancer cells while psychologists help patients deal with anxiety that sometimes comes with being a high-risk patient. Also, genetic counselors can help diagnosed patients determine if they have a gene mutation that confers a risk of colon cancer that can be passed on to their children.

“Not all patients want or need these services, but they are sometimes very useful,” Jung said. “For those seeking comprehensive care, what we have at the clinic is quite unique.”

Patients also can participate in clinical trials through the Lurie Cancer Center Hereditary Colorectal Cancer Registry and the clinic’s tissue bank. Jung and other researchers use information and samples collected from participating patients to help find better ways to diagnose, prevent and treat cancer in the future.

“Colon cancer is very preventable if you catch it early, and that is what this clinic is designed to do,” Jung said.

Topics: University News