The disorder known as colorectal cancer results in uncontrollable cell proliferation within the gastrointestinal tract or rectum. Informally, it is also called colon cancer. The large intestine, often known as the colon, is also the large bowel. The colon as well as the anus communicate through the rectum.
Polyps are uncommon growths that can occasionally form in the colon or even the rectum. Some polyps might potentially turn cancerous. Through screening testing, polyps can be discovered and removed before they turn cancerous. Furthermore, screening helps find colorectal cancer early, when treatment is most successful.
Molecular Tests for Detection
Certain genes or even proteins may alter some colorectal tumors, which may have an impact on how cancerous cells develop and how well they may respond to various cancer treatments.
Today, it is common practice to do lab tests on colorectal cancer cells after a diagnosis to check for specific gene or protein alterations, sometimes known as biomarkers. The outcomes of biomarker testing may influence a patient’s treatment decisions by indicating whether particular medications are likely to be beneficial. Numerous biomarkers are already regularly tested for, and numerous more are currently being researched to determine whether they could assist advance the treatment of colorectal cancer.
Anti-Angiogenesis- A Discovery
One of the most significant developments in the medical management of colorectal cancer has been the positive trials of the medication Avastin. Individuals who got Avastin in addition to regular chemotherapy survived nearly four months longer compared with people who just had standard chemotherapy, according to a recently published study of persons with metastatic colorectal cancer. Although this may not seem like a significant improvement, the research included patients with advanced colorectal cancer who frequently don’t react well to therapy.
Avastin is the initial version of a new class of cancer treatments known as angiogenesis inhibitors, that starve tumors by preventing the growth of blood vessels inside of them.
Antiangiogenesis has long been regarded as the Holy Grail of therapeutic development by many oncologists. Angiogenesis, the process through which new blood vessels are formed, is necessary for the growth of cancer cells. For many years, scientists have been trying to find a mechanism to stop the growth of fresh blood vessels.
A monoclonal antibody, or Avastin, is a synthetic replica of the naturally occurring antibodies the body produces to protect itself against invaders. It is made to counteract the effects of VEGF, a blood protein that aids with the development of new blood vessels in malignant tumors.
Medicine for Shrinking Tumors
The FDA has authorized the new medicine Erbitux for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer. According to research, when used with the chemotherapy medication Camptosar, Erbitux reduced tumor size in 23% of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who had used up all available chemotherapy treatments. It also delayed the tumor’s development by around four months. Erbitux alone reduced tumor size by 11% and slowed the development of the tumor by 1.5 months.
Even though we should be excited about all of these new treatments and advancements, it is vital to remember that there is still a lot we are unaware of. Research advances might not materialize until years down the road, if at all, into anything that directly affects the typical patient.
For example, the most advanced and difficult-to-cure form of colorectal cancer, known as metastatic colorectal cancer, is the only kind for which Erbitux has received FDA approval. Only more research will be able to determine how big of an effect it and other novel medications will have on the disease’s early stages.