The field of genomics has shifted our view on disease development by providing insights in the molecular and functional processes encoded in the genome. In the case of cancer, many alterations in the DNA accumulate that enable tumor growth or even metastatic dissemination. Identification of molecular signatures that define different stages of progression towards cancer can enable early tumor detection. In this review, the impact of genomics will be addressed using early detection of colorectal cancer (CRC) as an example. Increased understanding of the adenoma-to-carcinoma progression has led to the discovery of several diagnostic biomarkers. This combined with technical advancements, has facilitated the development of molecular tests for non-invasive early CRC detection in stool and blood samples. Even though several tests have already made it to clinical practice, sensitivity and specificity for the detection of precancerous lesions still need improvement. Besides the diagnostic qualities, also the accuracy of the intermediate endpoint is an important issue on how the effectiveness of a novel test is perceived. Here, progression biomarkers may provide a more precise measure than the currently used morphologically based features. Similar developments in biomarker use for early detection have taken place in other cancer types.
Virchows Archiv – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 1, 2017
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