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Colon cancer in African-Americans - advances in treatment

African-Americans have a higher risk of getting colon cancer than other racial groups in the United States.  The death rate from colon cancer for African-Americans is also higher than the general population.  Recent research studies have shown that colon cancer tumors in African-American patients have certain genetic characteristics which indicate certain targeted drug treatments.

The specific genetic characteristic of the tumors were found in the African-American colon cancer patients at double the rate found in the general population.  These were associated with mutations in the BRAF gene -- a type of mutation linked with aggressive colon cancers.  This discovery is important because effective treatment can depend on the type of cancer drug used.  There are certain cancer treatment drugs that specifically target BRAF gene mutations.  This treatment advance may help African-Americans with colon cancer to get more effective treatment.