DiCE Launches Project to Educate Patients and Healthcare Professionals on Biomarkers in Colorectal Cancer

September 22, 2021

Digestive Cancers Europe is pleased to announce the launch of a new project ‘Colorectal cancer: getting personal can be lifesaving’. The project will result in an educational toolkit on biomarker testing in colorectal cancer (CRC), which will be freely available on our website in English and other European languages. Biomarkers testing provides patients and their doctor with information on the tumour that can help healthcare teams develop tailor-made treatment plans to improve patients outcomes and survival.

What are biomarkers?

Biomarkers are the hallmarks of tumours, they are biological molecules that can be measured using a patient’s blood or tumour sample. Because they can be in the form of DNA, RNA or protein, various techniques are used for their analysis. Biomarker testing can provide your physician with valuable information, predicting how the tumour will progress and response to a specific therapy.

Is this a part of ‘normal procedures’ for a CRC patient?

The analysis of biomarkers of colorectal cancer (CRC) is routinely implemented in many hospitals and health centres in Europe recognising the importance of their identification to offer patients and their carers a better understanding of their therapeutic options and thus allowing better informed decisions. Still, only a small percentage of patients in Europe are informed on molecular testing after diagnosis; approximately 50% of patients with metastatic CRC in Europe either do not know if they have been tested or what testing is1.

CRC is the second most common cancer type among Europeans and one of the leading causes of cancer mortality. Despite its high incidence and mortality, patient provision does not cover all aspects of the disease fully. Knowing the biomarker expression in patients’ cancers could impact the quality of life and life expectancy of patients.

At DiCE we strongly believe in the importance of the patient’s literacy. Understanding the fingerprint of one’s own tumour is a fundamental step to face the disease and search for the best care opportunities. For these reasons we are launching the ‘Colorectal cancer: getting personal can be lifesaving’ project.

What are the aims of the project?

The project aims to picture the current landscape of biomarker testing for CRC across Europe. On one side, we will examine to what extent the recommendations of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) are followed and implemented and what the barriers for this implementation are. On the other side, we will analyse the gaps in biomarker testing across Europe to understand what European countries need to do to improve biomarker test availability and information for CRC patients to gain access to the most suitable treatments.

In parallel, a second objective will be to enable patients with CRC to participate in shared decision-making with the healthcare professional team by building their knowledge, confidence, and capacity around their treatment options. Throughout the production of educational materials, we aim to raise awareness among patients with metastatic CRC about biomarker testing, and available treatments related to biomarker test results.

Would you like more details? Please contact us.

1. Zorana Maravic et al. A European survey on the insights of patients living with metastatic colorectal cancer: the patient journey before, during and after diagnosis – an Eastern European perspective. ESMO Open. 2020 Sep;5(5):e000850. doi: 10.1136/esmoopen-2020-000850.

Catie Young

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