Genetic testing and colon cancer interventions

A Missouri patient dealing with stage 2 colon cancer would not typically be treated with chemotherapy after surgical removal of tumors. Traditionally, the risks presented by chemotherapy have been viewed as being too significant in comparison to the benefits that might be achieved. However, genetic studies indicate that up to 10 percent of those dealing with stage 2 colon cancer could potentially benefit from chemo.

A recent study has shown that tumors are more likely to return if they do not produce CDX2, a protein. The survival rate of stage 2 patients can be as high as 87 percent during the five-year period following surgery without chemo intervention. As researchers evaluated the data of nearly 2,000 patients, approximately 4 percent lacked the CDX2 protein. Among this group of CDX2 – negative individuals, 91 percent of those receiving both surgery and chemotherapy remained free of disease for five years.

Because the research in question only involved the analysis of existing data without new cases being tested, doctors cannot be completely sure that these connections are valid. However, the ability to test for this protein in new cases should be easy to coordinate. At this point, an association is suggested, but there is not proof at this time to show that there would be a definite improvement for stage 2 patients with chemotherapy. Further, the issue is only being explored for stage 2 patients because chemo is already a standard intervention for stage 3 patients. However, a delayed diagnosis of future disease risks might be avoided with additional testing.

A patient might benefit from genetic testing that could provide clear indicators of certain disease risks. If a provider fails to do such testing when symptoms warrant a specific investigation, there could be a case for a medical malpractice claim.