KRAS Mutation Testing in Colorectal Cancer
In the US, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death. Approximately 20% of patients present with metastatic disease, and an additional 30% to 40% develop metastasis during the course of their disease. Patients with metastatic colon cancer have a 5-year survival rate of only 11%. Although surgery is the mainstay of treatment for early stage colon cancer, adjuvant treatment is usually used in patients advanced stage disease. In particular, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor therapies have emerged as effective treatments in a subset of patients with metastatic colorectal carcinoma. Two anti-EGFR biologics, cetuximab and panitumumab, have been approved by the Food and Drug Administrations for the treatment of refractory metastatic colorectal carcinoma. Mounting evidence has shown that these therapies are ineffective in tumors with mutations of codons 12 and 13 of exon 2 of the KRAS gene. Because of this compelling data, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the American Society of Clinical Oncology have recommended determination of KRAS mutation status in all patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who are candidates for anti-EGFR therapy. Anatomic pathologists play an integral role in coordinating the testing for KRAS mutations, as this assay is performed on tissue samples selected by the pathologist. Herein, the authors present an up-to-date review of the biologic, clinical, and laboratory aspects of KRAS mutation testing in colorectal cancer.
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