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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Mar;983:251-67.

DNA methylation, a biomarker for colorectal cancer: implications for screening and pathological utility.

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Academic Unit of Pathology, Leeds University, Leeds, UK.


Currently up to one-third of colorectal cancer patients present with locally advanced or metastatic disease that precludes a surgical cure. Performance limitations and low uptake of current screening tools have fueled research to develop minimally invasive approaches that can detect early-stage neoplasms. The observation that altered DNA can be amplified from the stool or circulation has stimulated research on its use as a biomarker of occult neoplasia. De novo methylation of CpG islands 5' to certain tumor suppressor genes has been associated with epigenetic silencing. At certain loci this phenomenon is specific for neoplastic populations, and it is frequently detected at early stages in colorectal tumorigenesis. Accordingly, hypermethylation events have been proposed by researchers as ideal targets for the basis of a screening panel to detect peripheral tumor DNA. This critique reviews research findings on the use of epigenetic biomarkers in screening for occult neoplasia. In addition, the authors consider the pathological utility of epigenetic testing in refining tumor staging and predicting disease recurrence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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