Can a blood test be used to see if chemotherapy is needed for colorectal cancer? Elizabeth Tracey reports


Surgery is sometimes the only treatment needed for colorectal cancer, while at other times additional chemotherapy is also required. Now a new study shows that a blood test looking for cancer DNA can help identify the one in five people who may need chemo. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, explains.

Nelson: If you’re giving everyone that treatment only to go after 20% it’s going to be a hard numbers game. So what these folks tried to do is to use a blood test for DNA from the colorectal cancer that’s swimming around in the bloodstream. They did a randomized trial, more than 450 patients, either to get the additional chemotherapy, so called adjuvant chemotherapy based on the preference of the physician, 28% of them got that treatment. Versus, use this test if the colorectal cancer circulating DNA was gone, then they opted not to give the treatment.  :34

Nelson says outcomes were good for the folks who got the blood test. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.