Colorectal cancer is one of the most common malignant diseases in the United States and worldwide, and it remains among the top three causes of cancer-related death. A new understanding of molecular characteristics has changed the profile of colorectal cancer and its treatment. Even controlling for known mutational differences, tumor side of origin has emerged as an independent prognostic factor, and one that impacts response to therapy. Left- and right-sided colon cancers differ in a number of key ways, including histology, mutational profile, carcinogenesis pathways, and microbiomes. Moreover, the frequency of certain molecular features gradually changes from the ascending colon to rectum. These, as well as features yet to be identified, are likely responsible for the ongoing role of tumor sidedness and colorectal subsites in treatment response and prognosis. Along with tumor molecular profiling, blood-based biopsy enables the identification of targetable mutations and predictive biomarkers of treatment response. With the application of known tumor characteristics including sidedness and subsites as well as the utilization of blood-based biopsy, along with the development of biomarkers and targeted therapies, the field of colorectal cancer continues to evolve towards the personalized management of a heterogeneous cancer.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)