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Barwon Health contributes to trial of blood test to spare colon cancer patients from unnecessary chemotherapy

Thursday, 28 July 2022

Over 20 hospitals from across Australia were involved in a world first clinical trial to investigate a new blood test that could revolutionise how chemotherapy is used for colon cancer, by identifying the patients that need chemo and those that can be safely spared treatment. Barwon Health Cancer Services Trials Unit (CSTU) are long term contributors to the trial, with Dr Madhu Singh as Site Investigator, and are now recruiting for the latest phase of the trial.

The goal of chemotherapy when given after colon cancer surgery is to eradicate micrometastases – cancer cells that have travelled through the bloodstream to deposit in another site.  These deposits are undetectable during the initial stages, however will continue to grow if not treated with chemotherapy.

The novel blood test, co-developed by WEHI, can detect these micrometastases by picking up tumour-derived DNA in the bloodstream, enabling researchers to identify which patients should be offered chemotherapy based on whether micrometastases has been detected.

This blood test could be used to spare around 600 Australians from unnecessary chemo treatments each year. Additional studies are underway to investigate the value of tumour-derived DNA-informed treatment in other stages of colon cancer and other cancer types, including pancreas and ovarian cancer.

To find out more, click here.