A unique metastasis-specific microRNA signature in primary colorectal cancers that could predict prognosis and distant metastasis in colorectal cancer has been developed at the Center for Gastrointestinal Cancer Research and the Center for Epigenetics, Cancer Prevention and Cancer Genomics at Baylor Research Institute.
Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Distant metastasis is the major cause of mortality and serious morbidity in cancer patients. Researchers originally identified the need for specific biomarkers that could predict outcomes of colorectal cancer distant metastasis in order for physicians to suggest more effective therapies.
Investigator Dr. Ajay goel said, "The challenge is when it comes to colon cancer, it's still a very common cancer. Fifty percent of people in the U.S. aren't following recommended guidelines for colorectal cancer screening. The good news is this disease doesn't happen overnight."
The findings of the study would help determine which colorectal cancer patients have a high risk of developing distant metastases, of which liver metastasis is the most common manifestation. With these results, oncologists can better predict which patients need more extensive treatment to avoid over treating or under treating colorectal cancer in patients.
Dr. Goel said, "We've been doing this a long time. The fundamental basis is trying to understand who has a risk of developing colorectal cancer, and then understanding which patients have higher risks of their cancer spreading to lymph nodes and other distant organs."
A third phase of the study is currently underway. Researchers will take the results from the blood test and metastasis-specific microRNA study to develop markers for identifying different stages of colorectal cancer, and which drugs best treat those stages. The results could help establish individualized treatment and ultimately, start treating the right type of cancer with the right type of drug.
The study is published in the 'Journal of the National Cancer Institute'.