Researchers Find Genes That Cause Colorectal-Cancer Recurrence

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By EndoNurse staff

For decades, patients diagnosed with early-stage colorectal cancer  believed they were relatively fortunate. "At least it's early stage," some remarked. The view was, "The disease has been caught early; treatment with surgical removal of the tumor alone will suffice; I won’t need adjuvant chemotherapy; and my prospects for beating the disease are very good." This view was driven by the assumption that all early-stage colorectal cancer tumors were low-risk for recurrence. 

Recurrence and mortality rates associated with early-stage colorectal cancer are, in fact, much higher than previously realized. Nearly one in three patients with Stage 2 colon cancer who have undergone surgical removal of their tumor alone will have a recurrence of their cancer, and more than 80 percent of those who do have recurrence will die from their disease.

Dr. Peter Lenehan, Everist Genomics’ chief medical officer, explained, “We now know that patients with ‘high-risk’ early-stage colorectal cancer are up to 29 times more likely to have a recurrence of their tumors than patients with low-risk disease. More specifically, in a recently completed study involving 291 colorectal cancer patients, fewer than 3 percent of patients identified with low-risk tumors experienced a recurrence of their cancers compared to a staggering 68 percent recurrence rate in patients with high-risk early-stage disease."

This insight led the scientific team at Everist Genomics to ask several questions, explained Dr. Lenehan, “Could it be that previous research suggested that adjuvant chemotherapy had little impact on recurrence rates in early-stage colorectal cancer precisely because physicians were unable to distinguish early-stage low-risk tumors from high-risk tumors?

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