Barcelona, Spain: New research has yielded a clearer picture of which biomarkers could help doctors more precisely target the treatment of colon cancer, bringing closer the day when patients who will not benefit from chemotherapy are spared it, while those that will, get the more aggressive treatment they need.
As with many other solid tumours, doctors plan treatment of colon cancer chiefly by staging the tumour, which involves assessing how deep it has infiltrated into the bowel wall and how far the cancer has spread. Generally, if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, chemotherapy is given after surgery to prevent recurrence.
That approach is not very precise, said the studys lead investigator, Dr Arnaud Roth, a medical oncologist and chief of Oncosurgery at the University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland. Even if the lymph nodes are involved, at least half of those patients wont ever suffer a relapse and could be spared chemotherapy. However, since there is no good tool to distinguish them from the people who have a high likelihood of relapse, all patients with cancer detected in lymph nodes are treated with chemotherapy.
New tools are needed to make this distinction and biomarkers are one possibility, said Roth, who presented a large study on this subject today (Wednesday) at the European Cancer Conference (ECCO 14) in Barcelona.
Since the decoding of the human genome, scientists have increasingly been looking for genes or protein biomarkers consistently over-expressed or under-expressed in cancer tissue to see if those markers can help better determine prognosis and tailor treatment for individual patients.
The study, by a team of European scientists which Roth coordinates, examines in one of the largest patient groups to date a broad panel of candidate biomarkers suspected of playing a role in colon cancer.
The results are preliminary but extremely encouraging. This study will, we hope, clarify w
|Contact: Emma Ross|
ECCO-the European CanCer Conference