A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by Baylor Research Institute investigators has identified novel metastasis-specific microRNA signatures in samples of primary colorectal cancers that could help identify distant metastasis and aid in the prognosis of colorectal cancer.
There is a need to identify reliable biomarkers that can predict the possibility of developing colorectal cancer metastasis. This will allow patients to get more personalized and effective therapies, depending on their own cancer signatures.
These new results are part of a second phase of a long-term colorectal cancer study, which has already resulted in the creation of a blood test that can find cancer-related microRNAs in an early stage of the disease, before the tumor can progress within the colon.
“The challenge is when it comes to colon cancer, it’s still a very common cancer,” Ajay Goel, PhD, director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Cancer Research and for Epigenetics and Cancer Prevention at Baylor Research Institute, said in a news release. “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 results from this study will help identify which patients are at a high risk of developing cancer metastasis, especially those within the liver, which is one of the most common places for colorectal cancer metastasis development.
Furthermore, physicians will be able to efficiently predict which individuals need more intensive treatment, this way avoiding over or undertreating colorectal cancer patients.
“We’ve been doing this a long time,” Dr. Goel added. “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.”
Dr. Goel’s team is planning a third phase study, which will use the results from the previous two studies to create markers that can identify the different stages of colorectal cancer progression, along with the most appropriate therapeutics to treat each specific stage. This could result in individualized treatments for colorectal cancer patients that will attack the malignancy in a more efficient manner.