Tumour DNA technology provides effective pathway to colon cancer treatment

Congratulations to the Calvary Mater Newcastle Medical Oncology team, who provided a prominent leadership role in a successful cancer clinical trial that was published in one of the world’s leading medical journals, the New England Journal of Medicine.

The DYNAMIC trial was the first completed randomised clinical trial of circulating tumour DNA technology. It aimed to improve the treatment of patients who had been diagnosed with early stages of colon cancer and in return improve their quality of life.

Dr Fiona Day, Lead of the trial at Calvary Mater Newcastle and Senior Staff Specialist Medical Oncology, explains a standard treatment for patients with stage two or three colon cancer is surgery followed by chemotherapy to reduce the chances of the cancer’s reoccurrence. However, through this trial they were able to differentiate and tailor treatment for patients based on the results of a super sensitive blood test, performed on the patients four to seven weeks post-operative, which detects a tiny trace of the cancer’s DNA in the blood. Through the results of this microscopic blood test, the treating doctor is then able to tailor treatment – have chemotherapy after surgery, or just have the operation alone.

“The results of the trial have been dramatic, almost halving the number of people needing to take chemotherapy. Those patients who needed intensive treatment received it and those who didn’t benefited from bypassing chemotherapy, meaning no unnecessary side effects and inconvenience,” said Dr Day.

Calvary Mater Newcastle was one of 23 sites that participated in this Australian wide trial that recruited 455 participants. Our Mater team are to be congratulated on being one of the highest recruiting sites despite the hurdles of not performing this surgery on site and the extremely tight timelines for eligibility for the trial. Fiona comments, “Recruiting participants to this trial was a real team effort across the Mater and our colorectal surgery colleagues across the District.”

Dr Day concludes, “The favourable results of this trial are a great step forward in improving the lives of people facing colon cancer and how we treat them.”