Genetics & Genomics

Predictive Biomarkers: Understanding Their Use in Treatment Decision Making

Cyndy Simonson

biomarkers, colon cancer, genetic testing, genetics counselor, signaling pathways
CJON 2019, 23(4), 360-363. DOI: 10.1188/19.CJON.360-363

Predictive biomarkers are revolutionizing decisions about colon cancer treatment. Knowing which biomarkers are altered provides valuable information about which treatment may be more effective. DNA mismatch repair and microsatellite instability testing may also identify families that could benefit from further genetic evaluation to determine if there is hereditary risk for colon cancer. Nurses need to be able to explain what these biomarkers mean and how they affect treatment decisions, as well as recommend genetic counseling and testing for hereditary risk when appropriate.


  • Oncology nurses must keep up to date with changing information concerning predictive biomarkers.
  • Nurses should educate patients about the results of their colon cancer biomarker tests and how they affect treatment decisions.
  • Nurses can help identify patients with potential hereditary risk for colon cancer based on their family history and make appropriate referrals for further genetic testing.
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