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Why is KRAS Testing Needed BeforeAnti-EGFR Therapy?

With KRAS Testing, We Get One Step Closer to Personalized Cancer Care

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Updated June 18, 2014

What is KRAS Testing?

KRAS testing, which is a test to see which version of the KRAS gene your colon cancer tumor has, is an important first step to determining if your treatment should include anti-EGFR therapy.

What are the New KRAS Testing Guidelines?

Two leading cancer organizations have concluded that for people with metastatic colon cancer, testing for what is known as the KRAS mutation before beginning anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) therapy is now considered "best practice." This testing will be the standard of care for people with metastatic colon cancer who are being considered for treatment with anti-EGFR medications.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) released a Provisional Clinical Opinion at its annual meeting in 2009 detailing this recommendation. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), another organization that develops clinical practice guidelines, also has made this recommendation in their latest guidelines for colon cancer care.

KRAS refers to a gene that can be altered (mutated) in colon cancer cells. Studies show that if this alteration (mutation) is present, the anti-EGFR medications cetuximab (Erbitux) and panitumumab (Vectibix) are not as effective and should not be used.

This is good news, because it points the way toward the future in which we will see more personalized cancer care. If genetic testing of a person’s cancer cells can provide useful information, treatment plans can be tailored to better meet each person’s needs.

It's best to know if a person is unlikely to benefit from a particular treatment before it is given. This way, the side effects can be avoided and better, more effective treatments can be used instead.

Sources

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