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New England Journal of Medicine publishes CWRU review of the 'molecular basis of colorectal cancer'
Date:12/16/2009

ing pathways downstream from these mutations may also be tractable as therapeutic targets.

  • Studies that aid in the understanding of colorectal cancer on a molecular level have provided important tools for genetic testing for high-risk familial forms of the disease, predictive markers for selecting patients for certain classes of drug therapies and molecular diagnostics for the noninvasive detection of early cancers.

  • Recent progress in molecular assays for the early detection of colorectal cancer indicates that understanding the genes and pathways that control the earliest steps of the disease, and individual susceptibility, can contribute to clinical management in the near term. For example, patients whose colon cancers have mutations in either RAS or BRAF genes are known not to benefit from treatment with the anti-colon cancer agent Cetuximab.

  • Moreover, patients with inherited mutations in tumor-suppressor genes, such as APC, MLH1, and MSH2 have a very high risk of colorectal cancer and require early and frequent surveillance for colon cancer and often prophylactic surgery.

  • Last, the development of molecular diagnostics for the early detection of colorectal cancer is emerging as an important translation of colon-cancer genetics into clinical practice. One example is the development of stool DNA tests to detect cancer-associated aberrant DNA methylation as a method for early detection of patients with colorectal cancer or advanced adenomas. Stool DNA testing for colorectal cancer has been added to the cancer-screening guidelines of the American Cancer Society.

    Dr. Markowitz and Bertagnolli's concluding observations are optimistic ones that the considerable recent and ongoing advances in our knowledge of the molecular basis of colorectal cancer will continue to result in markedly reducing the burden of this disease.

    Dr. Markowitz reports being listed on patents licensed to Exact Sc
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  • Contact: Christina DeAngelis
    cat41@case.edu
    216-368-3635
    Case Western Reserve University
    Source:Eurekalert

    Page: 1 2 3

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