SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC), the leading patient advocacy group in colorectal cancer, kicked-off Biomarked, with support from Eli Lilly and Company, to shine a spotlight on genetic biomarkers and the critical role they can play in colorectal cancer treatment. Inspired by tattoo artist and season two Ink Master contestant Clint Cummings, who passed away from colorectal cancer six months ago, the awareness focuses on how biomarkers, like a tumor or tattoo, are unique to a person's body.
The campaign provides an array of educational resources, from a website and videos to a conversation checklist, to empower colorectal cancer patients and their caregivers to talk to their physicians about biomarker testing.
"It's vitally important that colorectal cancer patients understand biomarkers, the value of testing soon after diagnosis, and how this knowledge can positively impact future treatment," said Anjee Davis, President, Fight CRC. "Our goal is to educate patients and spark conversations about biomarker testing so patients become their own best advocates."
Biomarkers – biological molecules found in body tissues or fluid, including tumor tissue and blood – play a key role in developing individualized, or personalized, treatment approaches. Biomarker testing looks for mutations in tumor cells, or specific genes or proteins released by a tumor, to identify the tumor type.
In terms of cancer care, the role of biomarkers is similar to a roadmap. Biomarkers may help identify a treatment plan more efficiently, just as a map helps guide one to their destination with fewer turns along the way. For instance, some cancer types respond better to certain treatments and respond more poorly to others. Knowing the specifics of a tumor may help identify the treatment that will be most beneficial with the least amount of side effects.
"For too many years medicine has been a hit-or-miss discipline. Scientific advances, clinical trials, and ongoing biomarker research are helping doctors get closer to true precision medicine," says Dr. Harvey J. Murff, Associate Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "The goals of using an individual's molecular characteristics to prescribe therapies that are most likely to be effective while avoiding treatments that might be associated with too many side effects and not enough benefits are quickly becoming realized."
Current colorectal biomarker tests look at protein levels (CEA testing), DNA abnormalities (MSI-H), as well as specific genetic biomarkers (BRAF, PIK3CA, KRAS/NRAS genes). The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines recommend different types of biomarker testing based on the stage of the cancer. Testing is usually performed by tumor tissue biopsy or liquid biopsy. Patients should ask their physicians about testing options that are available to them.
Biomarker testing is helping caregivers like Deborah Ruth make more informed treatment choices. The quick reoccurrence of her husband Ronnie's colorectal cancer caused Deborah, a nurse, to research treatment options. "I asked Ronnie's physician if biomarker testing would be appropriate. The testing let us know that we were on the right path and gave us peace of mind – it gave us the power and strength to better fight the cancer," said Deborah Ruth.
The Ruths are good friends of the Cummings family, who connected them with Fight CRC so they could learn about treatment options and advocacy, as Clint did. His family, friends, and colleagues in the tattoo community were of great support for Clint and have now transitioned their support to help Fight CRC raise awareness about biomarkers and personalized cancer treatment options.
For more information on the Biomarked campaign and to download resources for patients, caregivers and medical professionals, please visit FightCRC.org/Biomarked.
ABOUT COLORECTAL CANCER
Colorectal cancer occurs when abnormal cells form tumors in normal tissues of the intestines and digestive system. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined in the U.S. Over 60 percent of deaths from colorectal cancer could be avoided with screening, yet one in three people are not up-to-date with colorectal cancer screening. While adults with an average risk should undergo routine screenings starting at age 50, African Americans and those with a family history of colorectal cancer should be screened earlier, starting at age 45. Symptoms may include diarrhea, constipation, narrow stools, blood in the stool, rectal bleeding, frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness or abdominal cramps, weight loss and fatigue, among others.
ABOUT FIGHT COLORECTAL CANCER
Fight CRC is a national nonprofit advocacy organization fighting for a cure. It was founded in 2005 by Nancy Roach, a patient advocate who witnessed the need for colorectal cancer advocacy after her mother-in-law's diagnosis. The organization plays an important role in rallying colorectal cancer advocates to action. Fight CRC is known for activism and patient empowerment throughout patient, academic, political, scientific, medical and nonprofit communities. With a mission focused on advocacy, research, patient education and awareness, the organization serves advocates in every state of the U.S. and many others around the world. Fight CRC is a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator and 93 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to colorectal cancer programs. To learn more, visit FightCRC.org.
ABOUT LILLY ONCOLOGY
For more than 50 years, Lilly has been dedicated to delivering life-changing medicines and support to people living with cancer and those who care for them. Lilly is determined to build on this heritage and continue making life better for all those affected by cancer around the world. To learn more about Lilly's commitment to people with cancer, please visit www.LillyOncology.com.
ABOUT ELI LILLY AND COMPANY
Lilly is a global healthcare leader that unites caring with discovery to make life better for people around the world. We were founded more than a century ago by a man committed to creating high-quality medicines that meet real needs, and today we remain true to that mission in all our work. Across the globe, Lilly employees work to discover and bring life-changing medicines to those who need them, improve the understanding and management of disease, and give back to communities through philanthropy and volunteerism. To learn more about Lilly, please visit us at www.lilly.com and newsroom.lilly.com/social-channels.
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SOURCE Fight Colorectal Cancer