Gene Test May Better Predict Colon Cancer Recurrence

In the February 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a new study finds that a genetic test could be the key to helping survivors of colorectal cancer predict their risk of recurrence. Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University found that improved molecular staging in the form of guanylyl cyclase C (GUCY2C) analysis can better reveal the odds of metastatic colorectal cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and the third most common in women worldwide, affecting some 1.2 million people annually. To determine prognoses of colorectal cancer, the most common procedure is to biopsy lymph nodes. If the biopsy reveals no cancer cells—a condition called pN0 colorectal cancer—the chance of recurrence is about one in four. But if the biopsy reveals cancer cells in four or more lymph nodes, the chance of recurrence jumps to one in two.

The study showed that conventional molecular staging techniques typically find about 13% of patients to be free of tumor cells. However, in about 25% of patients whose lymph nodes test clean, the cancer comes back. In comparison, GUCY2C results found malignancy in 87% of cases, suggesting that better staging “could overcome limitations in the detection of occult lymph node metastases,” said the researchers, who called for further studies to determine the accuracy and reliability of GUCY2C analysis. Of the patients who were flagged by the GUCY2C analysis, only 20.9% had a recurrence, and only 6.3% of those patients whose lymph nodes tested negative had a recurrence.

Through participation in the Jefferson Cancer Network, the Dale & Frances Hughes Cancer Center has access to the latest treatment protocols and oncology information to help cancer survivors in PA. Lung cancer treatment, colorectal cancer treatment, breast cancer treatment, and more are provided at this non-profit center.