Professor Mark MolloyThe University of Sydney$450,0002020 – 2022
Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer. Many people don’t realise it kills more Australians each year than breast, prostate or skin cancer. Bowel and rectal cancers arise from clusters of cells known as polyps. Most bowel polyps are non-cancerous, however, if not removed they can develop into cancer.Larger polyps are more likely to become cancerous compared to smaller polyps, but little is known about why this happens.
Professor Mark Molloy wants to understand why and how polyps become cancerous to reduce the incidence of bowel cancer in Australia. Professor Molloy and his team will use new and innovative approaches to examine the features of polyps at a molecular level to see what causes them to become cancerous. They hope the results will provide more precise details to determine how advanced a polyp is towards becoming cancerous. This information will then be used to asses an individual’s risk of developing bowel cancer.
Developing a clear understanding of why polyps become cancerous willhelp decrease the burden of bowel cancer in Australia.The research could allow for better scheduled follow-up colonoscopies, making sure the procedure is not over-used on low risk patients, and timingis optimised for higher-risk patients, improving earlier detection of future polyps before they become cancerous.
The long-term aim of the work is to optimise early detection treatment of pre-cancerous polyps using molecular testing approaches which will be less invasive and provide an overall reduction in bowel cancer cases.