Curious Dr. George | Plumbing the Core and Nibbling at the Margins of Cancer

Managing Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

Bassel El-Rayes, MD, Professor and Vice Chair for Clinical Research, Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Associate Director for Clinical Research, and Director of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University

Q:You have just received a new patient, referred to you from Macon, GA. She is a 52 year old white woman in good general health who is 3 months post op from a left hemi-colectomy for a grade 3 adenocarcinoma with extension through muscle but not through the serosa. Three of 15 lymph nodes were positive for cancer. She did not receive post-op radiation or chemotherapy. No molecular testing of the tumor was performed. She now presents with a single 3 cm mass in the liver discovered by CT scan. How will you manage her care?
A:This 52-year-old patient presents with a solitary liver lesion 3 months after resection of a stage III colon primary. If all her other staging is negative, my first question is do we proceed directly to surgery or should we try chemotherapy first? The short interval between the original cancer and the recurrence makes the case to use chemotherapy upfront followed by surgery. FOLFOX would be the chemotherapy of choice. The biologic agent may be influenced by the molecular profile of the tumor specifically RAS mutational status and MSI. Furthermore, knowing the BRAF mutational status may provide valuable information regarding prognosis. For these reasons, I would obtain a genomic profiling of the tumor. I would administer 2 to 3 months of chemotherapy and then obtain re-staging scans. My overall objective would be to complete roughly 6 months of therapy and follow that by surgical resection or ablation of the liver lesion.
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