Guiding Patients With Colorectal Cancer Along Their Care Journey - Episode 2

Discussing Genetic Testing in Colorectal Cancer

Understanding the genetics of colorectal cancer can help determine an optimal treatment strategy, making it important to have a detailed discussion with patients regarding the value of genetic testing, states Tanios Bekaii-Saab, MD. The concept of genetic testing should be introduced during initial treatment discussions or as a follow-up discussion, Bekaii-Saab advises.

Proper communications regarding mutations as drivers of cancer growth is important, says Saab. There may be available treatments that can target these drivers and inhibit the growth and spread of disease. It is also important to distinguish between the genetics of the tumor and the patient’s own genetics.

Terminology, such as RAS mutations and microsatellite instability, can complicate discussions with patients, says John L. Marshall, MD. In order to clearly present complex information to patients, it is important for clinicians themselves to be informed regarding all aspects of the disease and its management, adds Marshall.