Nav: Home

Underused cancer test could improve treatment for thousands

June 21, 2017

Underused cancer test could improve treatment for thousands, Mayo Clinic study finds

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A simple blood test could improve treatment for more than 1 in 6 stage 2 colon cancer patients, suggests new Mayo Clinic research. The researchers also discovered that many patients who could benefit from the test likely aren't receiving it. The findings were published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery.

Using data from the National Cancer Database for 40,844 patients, Mayo Clinic physicians and scientists teamed up to look at benefits of a blood test that measures the protein called carcinoembryonic antigen, or CEA, in stage 2 colon cancer. Carcinoembryonic antigen can be found in higher levels in people with certain cancers, especially colon cancer.

The researchers found that knowing these blood test results prior to treatment could have changed the classification for 17 percent of stage 2 colon cancer patients from average risk to high risk. That change could have altered treatment options, including whether to use chemotherapy.

"The decision to give a patient chemotherapy after surgery is not a light one, and physicians must weigh the risks and benefits," says senior author Kellie Mathis, M.D., a Mayo Clinic colon and rectal surgeon. "We are currently using the blood test to help make these difficult decisions, and we suggest other physicians do the same."

The blood test has been around for decades but is not broadly used across the country. It was recorded in 54 percent of cases meeting other relevant criteria for the study. While in some cases the test may not have been entered in the database, many other patients may not be getting it.

"There is no good reason for a physician to omit this blood test, and more work needs to be done to ensure that all patients receive it," Dr. Mathis says.

When patients get the blood test, the authors point out it is often done after surgery to monitor the cancer's development. Greater, and earlier, consideration of protein level may be warranted, the researchers say.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the U.S. and the second deadliest.

There are four primary stages of colon cancer. Generally, with stage 2, the cancer hasn't spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant organs but has grown into or through the wall of the colon. Some stage 2 patients fare worse than some stage 3 patients, who usually benefit most from chemotherapy. But the research team believes this blood test can help determine which stage 2 patients are at a higher risk and therefore could benefit from therapy.

The researchers also discovered that, for stage 2 patients who had surgery but not chemotherapy, the five-year survival rate was 66 percent for those with elevated protein levels and 76 percent for those without elevated levels. And for patients with elevated protein levels, those who had chemotherapy and surgery fared better than those who only had surgery.

"If a patient with a new diagnosis of stage 2 colon cancer has an elevated carcinoembryonic antigen level, physicians should consider chemotherapy in addition to surgery," says Dr. Mathis.
-end-
To perform the patient-centered research, physicians in the Mayo Clinic Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery collaborated with scientists in the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.

The lead author is Blake Spindler, M.D., a resident in the Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education. The other authors are John Bergquist, M.D., and Cornelius Thiels, D.O., both residents in the Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education, and Elizabeth Habermann, Ph.D., Scott Kelley, M.D., and David W. Larson, M.D., all from Mayo Clinic.

The study was funded by the Mayo Clinic Department of Surgery, the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery and the Mayo Clinic Clinician-Investigator Training Program.

About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, providing expert, whole-person care to everyone who needs healing. For more information, visit mayoclinic.org/about-mayo-clinic or newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org.

Mayo Clinic

Related Cancer Articles:

Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
Cancer genomics continued: Triple negative breast cancer and cancer immunotherapy
Continuing PLOS Medicine's special issue on cancer genomics, Christos Hatzis of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., USA and colleagues describe a new subtype of triple negative breast cancer that may be more amenable to treatment than other cases of this difficult-to-treat disease.
Metabolite that promotes cancer cell transformation and colorectal cancer spread identified
Osaka University researchers revealed that the metabolite D-2-hydroxyglurate (D-2HG) promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition of colorectal cancer cells, leading them to develop features of lower adherence to neighboring cells, increased invasiveness, and greater likelihood of metastatic spread.
UH Cancer Center researcher finds new driver of an aggressive form of brain cancer
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age.
UH Cancer Center researchers develop algorithm to find precise cancer treatments
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers developed a computational algorithm to analyze 'Big Data' obtained from tumor samples to better understand and treat cancer.
New analytical technology to quantify anti-cancer drugs inside cancer cells
University of Oklahoma researchers will apply a new analytical technology that could ultimately provide a powerful tool for improved treatment of cancer patients in Oklahoma and beyond.
Radiotherapy for lung cancer patients is linked to increased risk of non-cancer deaths
Researchers have found that treating patients who have early stage non-small cell lung cancer with a type of radiotherapy called stereotactic body radiation therapy is associated with a small but increased risk of death from causes other than cancer.
Cancer expert says public health and prevention measures are key to defeating cancer
Is investment in research to develop new treatments the best approach to controlling cancer?
UI Cancer Center, Governors State to address cancer disparities in south suburbs
The University of Illinois Cancer Center and Governors State University have received a joint four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to help both institutions conduct community-based research to reduce cancer-related health disparities in Chicago's south suburbs.
Leading cancer research organizations to host international cancer immunotherapy conference
The Cancer Research Institute, the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy, the European Academy of Tumor Immunology, and the American Association for Cancer Research will join forces to sponsor the first International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York, Sept.

Related Cancer Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#530 Why Aren't We Dead Yet?
We only notice our immune systems when they aren't working properly, or when they're under attack. How does our immune system understand what bits of us are us, and what bits are invading germs and viruses? How different are human immune systems from the immune systems of other creatures? And is the immune system so often the target of sketchy medical advice? Those questions and more, this week in our conversation with author Idan Ben-Barak about his book "Why Aren't We Dead Yet?: The Survivor’s Guide to the Immune System".