An Introduction to the Colorectal Cancer Research Center

Introduction

Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) welcomes you to the Colorectal Cancer Research Center (CCRC). Since 2017, CCRC’s research has deepened our understanding of colorectal cancer and made advanced treatments possible.

Our research saves lives. MSK’s 5-year survival rate is 10% higher than the nationwide average for colorectal cancer. Some 2,500 people with this disease come to MSK each year.

Our research helps set the standard of care for colorectal cancer. Almost every cancer treatment today is the result of research studies, also known as clinical trials. Many of the most advanced treatments for colorectal cancer were developed or first studied at MSK. We offer promising new therapies that may not be available at other hospitals. There is a direct connection between the research we do and the treatments we can offer you. 

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Help us help you

We can’t carry out this research without the help of our patients. During your treatment at MSK, we will ask you to help us with our research on colorectal cancers. Here’s how:

We will ask you for your leftover specimens

Your doctor may ask for your permission (consent) to use leftover samples from your diagnostic tests. These samples are called specimens. They can include blood, tissue, and stool (poop). Your doctor will ask you if we can use your leftover specimens in our research.

These leftover samples are very valuable in helping us learn about the development, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. For example, we will use your stool specimen for research on the role of the microbiome in colorectal cancer. The microbiome is the huge collection of microbes, such as bacteria and viruses, that live in your gut.

We will ask you to join a clinical trial, if appropriate

Clinical trials test new treatments to see how well they work. If you join one, you may get access to new treatments, sometimes years before they are available to everyone. Clinical trials are an important part of helping to prevent, treat, and cure cancer. Almost every cancer treatment given to patients was first tested during a clinical trial. These are treatments we now use every day to treat cancer.

For more information, please see the resource Clinical Trials at MSK: What You Need to Know. You can also watch the video What is a Clinical Trial?

We will ask you to report how you feel

We will ask you to fill out research questionnaires that tell us how you’re doing before, during, and after your treatment. Your answers are called patient-reported outcomes. They help us choose the treatments that have the best outcomes and will be more likely to improve quality of life.

Your answers can tell us, for example, whether people do better with smaller surgeries. We also want to learn more about whether some people can avoid surgery if we try other treatments instead. For example, we can try destroying tumors with radiation therapy and chemotherapy or immunotherapy instead of surgery.

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What happens next?

Your care team will ask for your permission to use your leftover specimens, report your outcomes, or both. This permission is called informed consent. We will give you information about what will happen to the samples or information you share with us. We also will give you information about the privacy of your medical records. We will tell you about MSK’s financial interest in its research.

You do not have to agree to help us with our research. If you choose to help, you must sign a consent form.

Our Understanding Informed Consent video explains the consent form and your rights if you choose to take part in a clinical trial.

We hope you will give us your consent to use your leftover samples and send you research questionnaires. We need your help to continue our colorectal cancer research and save more lives.

Please call your doctor with any questions.

Thank you.

Dr. Julio Garcia-Aguilar
Director, Colorectal Cancer Research Center
Chief Attending Surgeon, Colorectal Service

Dr. Rona Yaeger
Co-Director, Colorectal Cancer Research Center
Associate Attending, Department of Medicine

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