Colorectal Cancer: Latest Research

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2013

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of cancer and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Doctors are working to learn more about colorectal cancer, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.

Improved detection methods. Researchers are developing tests to analyze stool samples to find genetic changes associated with colorectal cancer. By finding and removing polyps or identifying cancer early, doctors have a better chance of curing the disease.

Tests to predict the risk of cancer recurrence. Tests that analyze various genes important to tumor growth and spread can help doctors and patients make decisions about whether to use chemotherapy after treatment. Researchers hope that these tests can spare people with a lower risk of recurrence from the side effects of additional treatment.

Cancer vaccines. Cancer vaccines are a type of immunotherapy (also called biologic therapy). Immunotherapy is designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function.

New drugs. Many new drugs are being tested for colorectal cancer, including advanced colon and rectal cancers. New types of chemotherapy and targeted therapy are being studied. Most are only available through clinical trials.

Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current colorectal cancer treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

Looking for More about the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding colorectal cancer, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

The next section addresses how to cope with the symptoms of the disease or the side effects of its treatment. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Coping with Side Effects, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.