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Colorectal cancer molecular biology moves into clinical practice
  1. Colin C Pritchard1,
  2. William M Grady2,3
  1. 1Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington, Washington, USA
  2. 2Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, Washington, USA
  3. 3Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to William M Grady, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue North, Box 19024, D4-100, Seattle, WA 98109, USA; wgrady{at}


The promise of personalised medicine is now a clinical reality, with colorectal cancer genetics at the forefront of this next major advance in clinical medicine. This is no more evident than in the recent advances in testing of colorectal cancers for specific molecular alterations in order to guide treatment with the monoclonal antibody therapies cetuximab and panitumumab, which target the epidermal growth factor receptor. In this review, genetic mechanisms of colorectal cancer and how these alterations relate to emerging biomarkers for early detection and risk stratification (diagnostic markers), prognosis (prognostic markers) and the prediction of treatment responses (predictive markers) are examined.

  • Colon cancer
  • biomarkers
  • EGFR
  • KRAS
  • K-Ras
  • BRAF
  • microsatellite instability
  • msi
  • chromosome instability
  • cetuximab
  • panitumumab
  • personalised medicine
  • colorectal cancer genes
  • molecular biology
  • molecular oncology
  • tumour markers

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  • Funding This work was supported by a Burroughs Welcome Fund Clinical Scientist in Translational Research Award, NCI RO1CA115513, and P30 CA015704 (to WMG).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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