When 7,000-plus cyclists line up in their chutes on Aug. 6, they will feel a certain brand of energy that has come to define Pelotonia. Coursing through those throngs will be the electric feeling of pure optimism — the belief that we are closer than ever to ending cancer.
Pelotonia, a fundraising ride that, in its first seven years, generated $106 million, supports groundbreaking research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center — James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. Pelotonia funding fueled Hampel’s work with the Ohio Colorectal Cancer Prevention Initiative (OCCPI).
By the time her study ends this year, Hampel and her team will have conducted genetic testing for nearly 3,000 colorectal cancer patients across Ohio. Researchers are looking to see if those patients have the markers for Lynch syndrome, a condition that predisposes a person to develop highly preventable cancers of the colon, uterus, ovaries, stomach and more.
Researchers found the number of people under age 50 who develop colon cancer for hereditary reasons is much higher than previously reported. Additionally, they tested patients’ immediate relatives — their brothers, sisters, children — and found that roughly half carried the marker as well.
Simply put: By identifying those who have Lynch syndrome earlier, people can schedule life-saving screenings long before cancer ever has a chance to manifest.
The research has made a profound impact for one Cincinnati family.
Every time Nancy Rosen was handed a medical history form at a doctor's office, she made a point of detailing the many family members who had colorectal cancer — maternal grandfather, her aunt and cousins. So she wasn’t too surprised to be diagnosed with it herself.
While receiving treatment at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Rosen opted into the OCCPI study. After testing positive for Lynch syndrome, her course of treatment was adjusted, and she had her reproductive organs removed to reduce her risk of developing other types of cancer.
“The best thing they’ve done for me, though, is to test my two children,” she says. One inherited the gene from Rosen, and that child now receives regular colonoscopies and blood work. “If my child gets cancer, the hope is that they will be able to catch it when it’s early and it’s treatable.”
Lynch syndrome research at Ohio State provided important information that led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend all newly diagnosed colorectal cancer patients nationwide be tested for Lynch syndrome.
The James put out a call for proposals to answer another research question, using the same 50-hospital network that collaborated for OCCPI. Hampel smiles as she explains that when the colorectal cancer study ends on Dec. 31, 2016, a new one will begin on Jan. 1, 2017.
“The work that’s happening at Ohio State is giving back to the whole state, not just in Columbus,” Hampel says. “It’s been transformational for The James to have Pelotonia because we can fund these large, statewide studies that can save lives.”
Share One Goal100% of every dollar raised by Pelotonia riders goes toward research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. You really can help end cancer.
A closer look
As of June 1, the Ohio Colorectal Cancer Initiative has screened 2,740 colorectal cancer patients for Lynch Syndrome. Of those patients, 87 tested positive.
So researchers tested 366 of their relatives. Approximately 50 percent of them had Lynch Syndrome, too, which means they can start getting preventative screenings sooner.
It's estimated the initiative has saved 639 life years and has a $32 million impact for the community.