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Avera Researcher Co-Authors International Study

Mar 11, 2020 08:09PM ● By MED Editor

Avera Cancer Institute participated in an international comparative study that demonstrates advantages of precision therapies compared to standard treatments for advanced colorectal cancer.

In spite of intensive prevention and early detection efforts, colorectal cancer is becoming increasingly common, especially in industrialized nations. Health experts predict that this form of cancer globally could cause over a million additional deaths per year by 2030. This type of cancer, the third most common in the U.S., is challenging because it grows without symptoms over a long period of time. By the time the disease is diagnosed, it is often too late for successful treatment.

Given this challenge, scientists around the world are working on novel strategies to improve early detection on the one hand and to treat advanced stages of colorectal cancer better on the other. For advanced cancer, individualized forms of therapy, based on genetic analysis, are gaining importance.

Researchers from the Avera Cancer Institute in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Kiel University, the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Campus Kiel in Germany, together with an international research team, have published a study of American and German colorectal cancer patients, comparing standard treatment protocols with a combination of standard and individualized therapy. 

The study concluded that patients with certain forms of advanced colorectal cancer lived on average 16 months longer thanks to supplementary individual treatment. The researchers from the Avera Cancer Institute, together with their international colleagues, recently published their study in the current issue of the scientific journal Cancers.

A total of 108 patients were analysed – 54 German patients and 54 American patients. German patients were treated according to European guidelines for this type of cancer and survived on average for 19 months after diagnosis. 

American patients were initially also treated according to a standard procedure, which, however, already included more treatment options than in Germany. Their average survival was 33 months. In 35 of the 54 patients, the standard protocol was followed by additional tailored treatment based on an assessment of the genetic and molecular profile of the tumor. 

An interdisciplinary Molecular Tumor Board, composed of doctors and experts in molecular biology, bioinformatics and genetics, developed a specifically tailored treatment recommendation for these 35 patients. This individual treatment may include a combination of multiple medications. 

“American patients – including those treated by precision oncology – survived on average of a year and a half longer. This shows the great impact that personalized treatment can have on the individual life expectancy of patients with advanced cancer – in the case of this study, colorectal cancer. We’re excited because this emphasizes our belief that precision oncology is the future of medicine,” said Casey Williams, PharmD, Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Director of Cancer Research in Sioux Falls and a co-author of the study.

Original publication:

Alexander Hendricks, Anu Amallraja, Tobias Meißner, Peter Forster, Philip Rosenstiel, Greta Burmeister, Clemens Schafmayer, Andre Franke, Sebastian Hinz, Michael Forster and Casey B. Williams (2020): Stage IV Colorectal Cancer Patients with High Risk Mutation Profiles Survived 16 Months Longer with Individualized Therapies. 

Cancers Published: 8 February 2020 DOI: 10.3390/cancers12020393