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Millions of Danish kroner goes to research into bowel cancer

Claus Lindbjerg Andersen from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital has just received DKK 1.8 million for a major new research project which it is hoped can ensure earlier detection of colon and bowel cancer so that more patients survive.

Around 40 per cent of the 4,000 Danes who are annually diagnosed with colon and bowel cancer experience relapses and often the cancer has often spread to vital organs.

New research under the leadership of Professor Claus Lindbjerg Andersen from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital will now pave the way for a more tailored treatment.

"The quicker relapses are discovered, the better the treatment possibilities and thus the chances of surviving are," says Claus Lindbjerg Andersen.

By using the latest technology to study changes in the hereditary material that is found in cancerous tumours, it is hoped that the research project can contribute to faster treatment of the bowel cancer patients who are annually informed that they have suffered a relapse.

This also forms the background for the Novo Nordisk Foundation granting almost DKK 2 million to the research project. A project which will be carried out in collaboration with the surgical departments in Herning, Randers, Hvidovre and Aarhus.

A huge step towards survival

"One characteristic of cancer cells is that their hereditary material is in several ways altered compared to the hereditary material in normal cells. This means that every single patient's cancerous tumour has its own unique changes to the hereditary material. In addition, previous research has shown us that these changes to a certain extent spread to the bloodstream – in other words, they become a kind of marker," explains Claus Lindbjerg Andersen.

The research team has developed a simple measurement method so that patients who have had their cancerous tumour removed by surgery can subsequently be checked using regular blood tests, so it is in this way possible to keep an eye on whether the cancer returns.

"This could be a huge step forward when it comes to improving the prognosis for survival. If the cancer returns, the treatment could be started much earlier than it is today, where any relapse and/or metastases can often only be confirmed when they are so advanced that they can be seen by a scanning," explains the researcher.

The research project is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Further information

Professor Claus Lindbjerg Andersen
Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Medicine and
Aarhus University Hospital, Department of Molecular Medicine
Direct tel.: +45 7845 5319