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CU Cancer Center News and Stories

Colorectal Cancer

Research    Colorectal Cancer    Clinical Trials    DOM Newsletter

CU Cancer Center Leading Clinical Trial of New Drug to Treat Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

A new phase 2 clinical trial led by University of Colorado Cancer Center member Robert Lentz, MD, may offer hope for patients with metastatic colon cancer for whom standard therapy is no longer effective. Lentz is mentored by Wells Messersmith, MD, associate director of clinical services at the CU Cancer Center.


Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date September 07, 2022
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Patient Care    Community    Awareness    Colorectal Cancer

Couple Both Battling Stage IV Colon Cancer Focused on Enjoying Each Moment as a Family

As they both deal with a stage IV colon cancer diagnosis, Kacie Peters and Erik Stanley are focused on living a normal, happy life with their son.


Author Rachel Sauer | Publish Date June 20, 2022
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Patient Care    Community    Blood Cancer    Colorectal Cancer

Young Colon and Blood Cancer Patient Excited for the Future After Journey Through Treatment and Recovery

Jimmy Guerrero’s first diagnosis was a possible stomach ulcer, because it seemed inconceivable that a 26-year-old would have colon cancer.


Author Rachel Sauer | Publish Date June 13, 2022
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Community    Breast Cancer    Colorectal Cancer

Investigating the Connections Between Medicaid and Cancer Survival

At first blush, the numbers aren’t great: Cancer patients who are covered by Medicaid tend to have later-stage disease and higher rates of mortality.


Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date April 13, 2022
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Patient Care    Community    Colorectal Cancer

“I’m Strong Enough to Get Through”

For so many years, Kelly Noonan prioritized a lot of elements in her life – her family, her career as a nurse, her friends, her responsibilities as a community volunteer.


Author Rachel Sauer | Publish Date March 28, 2022
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Research    Community    Awareness    Colorectal Cancer   

Younger Patients Increasingly Being Diagnosed with Late-Stage Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer, the third most commonly-diagnosed cancer in the United States (excluding skin cancers) and second leading cause of cancer-related mortality, is increasingly affecting people in their 20s and 30s, recently published research shows.


Author Rachel Sauer | Publish Date March 23, 2022
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Community    Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer Advocates Heading to State Capitol to Celebrate Wins, Highlight Need for More Funding 

Celebrating the beginning of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, the Colorado Cancer Coalition (CCC) is headed for the state Capitol at noon on March 2 to celebrate recent federal policy changes that make it easier for people to get screened for the deadly disease.


Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date February 23, 2022
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Breast Cancer    Lung Cancer    Colorectal Cancer

American Cancer Society Reports 32% Drop in Cancer Deaths Since 1991

The American Cancer Society (ACS) released its annual cancer statistics last week, reporting that the risk of dying from cancer in the U.S. has fallen 32% over the past 28 years. Cancer deaths in the U.S. reached their peak in 1991, with 215 out of every 100,000 people dying from cancer, and have been falling ever since, largely due to a decline in the amount of people who smoke.


Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date January 18, 2022
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Patient Care    Colorectal Cancer    Surgical Oncology

Erica’s Colon Cancer Didn’t Stand a Chance With Procedure That Kills Microscopic Cancer Cells

Erica Ramsthaler was only given three years to live when she was first diagnosed with colorectal cancer, but after transferring her care to the University of Colorado Cancer Center, she is thriving more than four years later.


Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date October 08, 2021
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Community    Colorectal Cancer

Surviving a Stage I Diagnosis Turned Him Into an Advocate for Colorectal Cancer Research

Evan Conant was one of the lucky ones. His stage I colon cancer was caught early, during a routine colonoscopy, and doctors at the University of Colorado Cancer Center were able to perform a surgery to remove the tumors entirely.


Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date September 14, 2021
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Community    Colorectal Cancer

Fighting Disparities in Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer

The recent decrease in the age recommendation for colorectal cancer screening came as no surprise to Chris Lieu, MD, associate director of clinical research at the CU Cancer Center. Like many cancer doctors around the country, Lieu has seen an alarming increase in recent years of cases of colorectal cancer in patients younger than 50.


Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date June 14, 2021
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Press Coverage    Colorectal Cancer

Estimated 2,100 New Cases Of Colon Cancer Each Year Among Coloradans

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently lowered its recommended age to begin screening for colon cancer from 50 to 45. It’s the third most common cancer in America, and in Colorado, there are an estimated 2,100 new cases each year.

Dr. Chris Lieu, the Associate Director of Clinical Research at the CU Cancer Center, explained the change stems from an increase in the number of colorectal cancer cases among younger people.


Author CBS4 Denver | Publish Date May 21, 2021
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Patient Care    Colorectal Cancer    Magazine

Recommended Colorectal Cancer Screening Age Lowered to 45 for People at Average Risk

In a move that has the potential to save thousands of lives, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) this week lowered the recommended screening age for colorectal cancer from 50 to 45 for asymptomatic patients with no family history of colorectal cancer. Considered the leading source of medical guidance in the U.S., the USPSTF is an independent, volunteer organization made up of national experts in internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, nursing, behavioral health, and more.


Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date May 21, 2021
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Patient Care    Colorectal Cancer    Magazine

Helping Low-Income Patients Navigate the Cancer Screening Process

Pablo Garcia started to worry when he began experiencing unusual stomach symptoms. He worried even more when his doctor at the Salud Family Health Center in Longmont, Colorado, ordered a colonoscopy to check for signs of colon cancer. Pablo was unfamiliar with the procedure, the preparation, and the hospital where the test was to take place. 


Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date April 14, 2021
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Patient Care    COVID-19    Colorectal Cancer

The Importance of Getting Your Cancer Screening and Treatment During a Pandemic

There’s never a good time for a cancer diagnosis, but it’s especially difficult in the middle of a pandemic, when concerns about safety compound the worry and anxiety that come along with hearing, “you have cancer.”


Author Cancer Center | Publish Date January 06, 2021
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Research    Colorectal Cancer

Less chemotherapy may have more benefit in rectal cancer

Chemotherapy used to shrink a tumor before surgery, called neoadjuvant chemotherapy, is becoming more common in many cancers, including stage II and III rectal cancer. However, the chemotherapy regimens FOLFOX and CapeOx used in this setting come with significant side effects, to the degree that many patients are unable to complete the recommended schedule. Now a University of Colorado Cancer Center study presented at the 2020 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium shows they may not have to: A small study of 48 patients with locally advanced rectal cancer receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy, found that patients receiving lower-than-recommended doses in fact saw their tumors shrink more than patients receiving the full dose.


Author Cancer Center | Publish Date January 30, 2020
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Philanthropy    Colorectal Cancer

He Should Be Here

Heather and Lauren Squire credits the University of Colorado Cancer Center for giving them a couple more years with their beloved father and husband.

Doug after completing a half-marathon

“My husband was a beast,” explains Heather Squire. “Up until the very end, he was an absolute beast.”

“Beast” may be the perfect way to describe someone who would run three to four miles right after a chemo infusion. “Beast” may also be the perfect way to describe a dedicated doctor who saw his last patient exactly two months before his passing. But for Heather Squire and their daughter Lauren, the “beast” Doug Squire, was a loving and compassionate husband and father who made the most of each and every day.

It Can Happen to Anyone

After nearly 18 months of stomach issues that doctors were unable to explain, Doug Squire, MD, oral and maxillofacial surgeon, from Longmont, CO, found himself in a waiting room with his wife, Heather, to undergo a colonoscopy procedure.

“I remember what I was wearing that day,” says Heather. “The whole day is so clear in my head. It was absolutely traumatic. After just about ten minutes into the procedure the doctor came out and said, ‘we need to talk’.”

Doug was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer that had metastasized to his liver. The prognosis was bleak: 2 to 3 years, “if he was lucky”.

Doug with daughter, Lauren, and Wife, Heather

“I did not accept that. I physically and mentally could not accept that,” says Heather. “I was 39, we had a 10-year-old daughter and we had our whole life together waiting for us. I remember saying to the doctor ‘that’s not going to work for us’”. 

A cancer diagnosis never crossed the Squire’s mind. Doug was only 41, extremely fit, ate well, and took care of his health. You could say he was the opposite of someone you would imagine being diagnosed with cancer and especially colon cancer.

“People think that colon cancer is just an ‘old person disease’. That is not the case. If the most freaking fit human can get it, anyone can!” says Heather.

A Long(er) Road

At the time he was diagnosed Doug was given just 2 to 3 years to live. The Squires’ were determined to beat those odds. 

“We ended up going to another cancer center before we were officially connected with Dr. Messersmith,” explains Heather. “Doug said many, many times throughout his treatment that he completely trusted Dr. Messersmith and felt comfortable with him, which was the most important thing for us.”

Doug’s care team stretched state lines. His oncologist at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and his surgeon at another cancer center in Texas. 

“The collaboration worked out wonderfully because Dr. Messersmith and the surgeon actually knew each other and were able to go back and forth with different ideas throughout the treatment process,” says Heather.

His treatment included surgery to slowly kill off parts of his liver. In addition, Doug went through countless rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. 

“He never complained. Not even once,” says Heather. “He would actually go for runs, pump in hand, during his infusions. No one could believe he had stage 4 cancer and that’s exactly how he wanted it”

Doug during at a chemo therapy infusion

A long road (luckily) became a little bit longer when Doug hit the three-year mark after diagnosis.  He even ran a half marathon in New Orleans on the 3 year anniversary of diagnosis to prove his point.  However, in year four, his chemo treatments stopped working. Messersmith brought up the idea of starting immunotherapy as a last resort but, devastatingly, Doug did not qualify for the trial. Doug passed away on August 3rd, 2017 at his home surrounded by his family. He was just 46.

“Dr. Messersmith and Doug’s entire care team gave us the gift of more time with our husband, father, and friend,” says Heather. “We got an additional two and a half years to make memories and be together thanks to the care we received. Before Doug passed, we knew that we wanted to do something to give back.”

Giving Back

Before Doug passed, he gave Heather the instructions to sell his BMW and give 100% of the profits to Dr. Messersmith. This started a domino effect in the Squire family.

“Doug was always a very humble man. He did not want me to have a funeral. Instead, we had  ‘Dougtoberfest’, a chance for friends to gather and an opportunity to raise awareness and money for colorectal cancer research,” explains Heather. “At the event, we were humbled and honored to have hundreds of people attend and we were able to create the Doug Squire Honorary Fund.”  

The Doug Squire Honorary Fund supports many aspects of colorectal cancer research, including the training of future oncologists in the CU Cancer Center’s Summer Research Fellowship Program

Lauren and Heather with Hannah Frederick, a CU Cancer Center Summer Research Fellow.

“This year we were able to sponsor Hannah (Frederick),” says Heather. “She is amazing! We were lucky enough to have a private lunch with her after the program was completed and really get to know her and her hopes for the future. It means the world that we were able to support her in her colon cancer research endeavors.” 

“Hannah Frederick is a junior at the University of Maryland,” says Jill Penafiel, Education Manager at the CU Cancer Center. “She’s a stellar student who has a passion for research. She really enjoyed presenting her research results to Heather and Lauren Squire and Dr. Messersmith and was so appreciative of the sponsorship and connection to a colon cancer patient.”

Cartwheeling for Colon Cancer

In addition to support research, Heather has made it her life’s mission to raise awareness about colon cancer in young people.

“When Doug was going through treatment, being healthy and active remained important in our lives” she says. “I traveled frequently for work and in an effort to stay active on the road and let him know I was thinking of him, I did a cartwheel at the end of each run and sent him a photo. Now, it has grown to be an awareness effort and a unique way to get people’s attention on the topic of colon cancer.”

The instagram account Cartwheels4ColonCancer has hundreds of followers. Heather, who manages the account, has met many of the followers, heard their stories and knows first-hand her awareness passion is helping save lives.

“I have people come up and tell me ‘thank you’ for not only raising awareness of colon cancer in young people but also encouraging people to be proactive about their health,” says Heather. “If something feels off in your body, don’t dismiss it!”

Moving Forward

It has been just over two years since Doug’s passing. Since then, Heather and Lauren have dedicated their lives to awareness and funding life-saving cancer research. They have no plans to stop in the future. 

“We move forward, but we don’t move on,” says Heather. “We never expected to lose Doug as early as we did. I can only hope that our efforts are making him proud and saving lives in the process.”

To learn more about Doug’s story watch this video.


Author Cancer Center | Publish Date September 30, 2019
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Research    Colorectal Cancer

A Deeper Look in to Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer

Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC) is excited to announce that the manuscript titled “A summary of the Fight Colorectal Cancer working meeting: exploring risk factors and etiology of sporadic early-age onset colorectal cancer” has been published in the August edition of Gastroenterology. Over 45 experts studying colon and rectal (colorectal) cancer in young adults participated in this effort. 


Author Cancer Center | Publish Date August 01, 2019
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Patient Care    Colorectal Cancer

ASCO: 294 days between symptoms and diagnosis of colorectal cancer in young patients

The incidence of early onset colorectal cancer has increased nearly 50 percent in the last 30 years. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago aimed to identify factors that may aid in earlier diagnosis and treatment of the disease. 


Author Cancer Center | Publish Date May 29, 2019
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Colorectal Cancer

The Rise of Early Onset Colorectal Cancer

More and more young people are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer. The increase is not small—the number of cases is up approximately 40 percent in the last 25 years. This is a stark contrast to the decrease of 40 percent in populations typically affected by the disease. Researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center want to know why more young people are being diagnosed and what can be done to reduce the burden in this population.


Author Cancer Center | Publish Date March 29, 2019
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Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer: What We Know

Colorectal cancer is unique in that, unlike many other cancers, we know how it progresses from healthy to cancerous. We also know how to prevent it and catch it in its early stages, making it one of the only truly preventable cancers. Unfortunately, even with this knowledge, about 140,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the United States every year. Even worse, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States behind lung cancer.


Author Cancer Center | Publish Date March 14, 2019
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Research    Faculty    Colorectal Cancer

Leaders Meet in Colorado to Set Research Agenda for Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer

While the overall incidence of colorectal cancer has fallen about 2 percent annually over the previous two decades, the incidence of early-onset colorectal cancer has risen. In adults ages 20-49, the incidence of colorectal cancer rose 1.5 percent annually over this period. For the youngest end of this age range, those aged 20-29, the annual percentage increase in colorectal cancer incidence was 5.2 percent in men and 5.6 percent in women.


Author Garth Sundem | Publish Date February 01, 2019
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Research    Faculty    Colorectal Cancer

To Screen or Not to Screen? That Is the Question.

Nearly a decade ago, a lightbulb went on in Christopher Lieu’s head. At the time, Dr. Lieu was in the beginning of his fellowship and the lightbulb was his recognition of a disturbing trend: More and more young people were being diagnosed with colon cancer.


Author Taylor Abarca | Publish Date January 03, 2019
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Colorectal Cancer

Immunotherapy Trial Gives Young Colon Cancer Patient Back His Life

More than a stomachache

A trip to Jamaica means white sandy beaches, warm waters, and a perfect get away for most people. But for Stephen Estrada, a colon cancer patient at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, his trip to the island turned into a nightmare.


Author Cancer Center | Publish Date March 07, 2016
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Patient Care    Faculty    Colorectal Cancer

Young Colon Cancer Patient Finds Hope at CU Cancer Center

With long blonde hair, a fit physique, and an overwhelmingly positive attitude, Katy Davenport hardly looks like someone who is enduring cancer. Yet at 34 years old Katy went in for a precautionary colonoscopy after noticing some blood in her stool. Her doctor was shocked to discover a tumor.


Author Taylor Abarca | Publish Date March 02, 2015
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Research    Colorectal Cancer

As Colorectal Cancer Gets More Aggressive, Treatment with Grape Seed Extract Is Even More Effective

When the going gets tough, grape seed extract gets going: A University of Colorado Cancer Center study recently published in the journal Cancer Letters shows that the more advanced are colorectal cancer cells, the more GSE inhibits their growth and survival. On the other end of the disease spectrum, GSE leaves healthy cells alone entirely.


Author Garth Sundem | Publish Date January 16, 2013
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CU Cancer Center In the News

Biospace

ODAC Votes Against Safety Profile of Secura Bio’s P13K Inhibitor

news outletBiospace
Publish DateSeptember 26, 2022

In an 8-4 vote, the FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee Roster voted against the benefit-risk profile of Secura Bio’s P13K inhibitor Copiktra.

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Cancer Health

Abortion Ban Will Harm Women Diagnosed with Breast Cancer During Pregnancy

news outletCancer Health
Publish DateSeptember 22, 2022

Two CU Cancer Center members detail how the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs V. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will harm some patients.

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ET Healthworld

Researchers Discover New Imaging Information System May Provide Accurate Prognosis for Certain Cancers

news outletET Healthworld
Publish DateSeptember 20, 2022

A novel imaging information system developed by researchers at CU Anschutz may eventually provide a faster, more accurate prognosis for certain tumors.

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Cancer Health

Researchers Find Less Risky Way to Monitor Breast Cancer Progression

news outletCancer Health
Publish DateSeptember 20, 2022

CU Cancer Center researchers have discovered how to extract critical information about breast cancer tumors and disease progression by analyzing blood plasma.

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