Considering Treatment Options for Colorectal Cancer

Jordan Berlin, M.D., on clinical controversies in colorectal cancer at ASCO 2019.

Colorectal cancers are among the commonly occurring carcinomas in the United States, with an estimated 145,6700 new cases expected in 2019 accounting for 8.3% of all cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Although great strides have been made in lowering mortality through early detection screenings, such as colonoscopies, metastatic colorectal cancer remains a deadly disease. The NCI estimates that 51,020 people in the United States will die from colorectal cancer in 2019.

Jordan Berlin, M.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research at Vanderbilt University and associate director for Clinical Research at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), addressed some of the clinical controversies for colorectal cancer at ASCO 2019, speaking on the topic “There Is No Role for Radioembolization in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer.” Berlin also led an abstract discussion on “Neoadjuvant Therapy: Should Medical Oncologists Go First?”

Research Initiatives

Berlin is an internationally known researcher who has served as leader of cancer organizations including ASCO, where he has been a chair and a member of multiple committees. At the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, he has helped determine the guidelines for clinical treatment of patients with neuroendocrine, pancreas and colorectal cancers.

At VICC, Berlin is principal investigator of Project 2 and co-director of the Administrative Core for the GI Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE), a prestigious research grant program funded by the NCI. He is also a principal investigator of the Vanderbilt Lead Academic Participating Site Grant with the National Clinical Trials Network and of the UM1 to conduct early-phase trials with the Early Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network.

Next Steps

Berlin is currently involved in a Vanderbilt initiative to develop predictive imaging technologies that clinicians can use to better match patients with personalized care. He and Charles Manning, Ph.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research at Vanderbilt University, are the principal investigators of a $3.2 million NCI grant to develop VU-PREDICT.

The work entails expanding the possibilies of PET imaging through the use of innovative radiopharmaceuticals. Currently, genomic assays based on RNA and DNA are the primary tools used in matching patients with precision cancer medicine. VU-PREDICT aims to develop novel imaging technologies so that the phenotypes of tumors – their visual presentations – can enhance genomics as well as serve as an additional predictor. The researchers plan to devise novel quantitative imaging methods so that cancer clinicians can more quickly evaluate patient responses to drug therapies.