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Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Advisor

Dr. Bartley Rust and Dr. Thomas Colletti

Abstract

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States, with an estimated 135, 430 new cases diagnosed in 2017. More than 50,260 perished from colorectal cancer in the past year alone. Though it is a highly preventable disease with available screening technologies like colonoscopy and fecal occult blood testing, incidence and prevalence remain high. This leaves the oncology team with the daunting task of disease management, where toxicities have the potential to be as debilitating as the disease. Adjuvant chemotherapy, as indicated by the volume of documented colorectal cancer deaths annually, has been woefully unsuccessful in achieving its curative intent. As a call to action, scientists have introduced technological advances that have led to the introduction of next-generation sequencing (NGS) platforms in cancer management. With the new understanding that the biology of colorectal cancer is unique to the individual at a molecular level, scientists have developed DNA sequencing and RNA analysis to maximize tumor genomics. Though broad and complex, next-generation sequencing allows for rapid analysis of genomes, yielding invaluable information about cancer biology, germline mutations associated with hereditary cancers, and drug targets. This molecular technology has the potential to transform the practice of medical oncology and clinical research, leading cancer care toward individualized treatment with more positive outcomes, reduced toxicity, and the potential to identify breaches in DNA and RNA before they transform into malignancies.

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