Genetic and Epigenetic Traits as Biomarkers in Colorectal Cancer
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Colorectal cancer is a major health burden, and a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in industrialized countries. The steady improvements in surgery and chemotherapy have improved survival, but the ability to identify high- and low-risk patients is still somewhat poor. Molecular biology has, over the years, given insight into basic principles of colorectal cancer initiation and development. These findings include aberrations increasing risk of tumor development, genetic changes associated with the stepwise progression of the disease, and errors predicting response to a specific treatment. Potential biomarkers in colorectal cancer are extensively studied, and how the molecular aberrations relate to clinical features. Yet, little of this knowledge has been possible to transfer into clinical practice. In this review, an overview of colorectal cancer genetics will be given, as well as how aberrations found in this tumor type are proposed as biomarkers for risk prediction, as diagnostic tools, for prognosis or prediction of treatment outcome.