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Bowel cancer biomarker testing lags behind other major cancers

A report released on 4 March 2015, entitled ‘The Testing Gap’, has revealed a disparity between treatment biomarker testing across three of the main cancers in the UK: bowel, breast and . A biomarker test is a way of identifying which patients are more likely to respond to a particular treatment based on the genetic make-up of their tumour.

The research, commissioned by , based on a survey of 120 bowel, breast and lung from across the UK, showed that bowel are testing less frequently than breast and lung . The research highlights that a third of bowel are not carrying out the test at a metastatic diagnosis and that only 5% are testing at first diagnosis irrespective of the disease stage (compared to 69% of breast and 35% of lung ).i

Dr Harpreet Wasan, Consultant Medical Oncologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said; “This new research confirms that the clinical implications of biomarker testing in is not widely appreciated and available as in other cancers biomarker testing is not given the same priority in compared with other major cancers. Many clinicians are not conducting the RAS test until very late in the treatment pathway. Earlier testing could inform treatment decisions, provide better outcomes for the patient and mean that we are not losing valuable time whilst the test results are being analysed.”


[i] Merck Serono UK, Treatment Biomarker Survey: A survey amongst cancer specialists in the UK. August 2014

Source: Merck Serono