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Improving clinical management of colon cancer through CONNECTION, a nation-wide colon cancer registry and stratification effort (CONNECTION II trial): rationale and protocol of a single arm intervention study

18 augustus 2020



It is estimated that around 15–30% of patients with early stage colon cancer benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. We are currently not capable of upfront selection of patients who benefit from chemotherapy, which indicates the need for additional predictive markers for response to chemotherapy.

It has been shown that the consensus molecular subtypes (CMSs), defined by RNA-profiling, have prognostic and/or predictive value. Due to postoperative timing of chemotherapy in current guidelines, tumor response to chemotherapy per CMS is not known, which makes the differentiation between the prognostic and predictive value impossible. Therefore, we propose to assess the tumor response per CMS in the neoadjuvant chemotherapy setting. This will provide us with clear data on the predictive value for chemotherapy response of the CMSs.


In this prospective, single arm, multicenter intervention study, 262 patients with resectable microsatellite stable cT3–4NxM0 colon cancer will be treated with two courses of neoadjuvant and two courses of adjuvant capecitabine and oxaliplatin. The primary endpoint is the pathological tumor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy per CMS. Secondary endpoints are radiological tumor response, the prognostic value of these responses for recurrence free survival and overall survival and the differences in CMS classification of the same tumor before and after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. The study is scheduled to be performed in 8–10 Dutch hospitals. The first patient was included in February 2020.


Patient selection for adjuvant chemotherapy in early stage colon cancer is far from optimal. The CMS classification is a promising new biomarker, but a solid chemotherapy response assessment per subtype is lacking. In this study we will investigate whether CMS classification can be of added value in clinical decision making by analyzing the predictive value for chemotherapy response. This study can provide the results necessary to proceed to future studies in which (neo) adjuvant chemotherapy may be withhold in patients with a specific CMS subtype, who show no benefit from chemotherapy and for whom possible new treatments can be investigated.

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Performance of Four Platforms for KRAS Mutation Detection in Plasma Cell-Free DNA: ddPCR, Idylla, COBAS z480 and BEAMing

15 mei 2020

Multiple platforms are commercially available for the detection of circulating cell-free tumour DNA (ctDNA) from liquid biopsies. Since platforms have different input and output variables, deciding what platform to use for a given clinical or research question can be daunting. This study aimed to provide insight in platform selection criteria by comparing four commercial platforms that detect KRAS ctDNA hotspot mutations: Bio-Rad droplet digital PCR (ddPCR), BioCartis Idylla, Roche COBAS z480 and Sysmex BEAMing. Platform sensitivities were determined using plasma samples from metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients and synthetic reference samples, thereby eliminating variability in amount of plasma analysed and ctDNA isolation methods. The prevalence of KRAS nucleotide alterations was set against platform-specific breadth of target. Platform comparisons revealed that ddPCR and BEAMing detect more KRAS mutations amongst mCRC patients than Idylla and COBAS z480. Maximum sample throughput was highest for ddPCR and COBAS z480. Total annual costs were highest for BEAMing and lowest for Idylla and ddPCR. In conclusion, when selecting a platform for detection of ctDNA hotspot mutations the desired test sensitivity, breadth of target, maximum sample throughput, and total annual costs are critical factors that should be taken into consideration. Based on the results of this study, laboratories will be able to select the optimal platform for their needs.

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Preferences to receive unsolicited findings of germline genome sequencing in a large population of patients with cancer

23 april 2020


In precision medicine, somatic and germline DNA sequencing are essential to make genome-guided treatment decisions in patients with cancer. However, it can also uncover unsolicited findings (UFs) in germline DNA that could have a substantial impact on the lives of patients and their relatives. It is therefore critical to understand the preferences of patients with cancer concerning UFs derived from whole-exome (WES) or whole-genome sequencing (WGS).


In a quantitative multicentre study, adult patients with cancer (any stage and origin of disease) were surveyed through a digital questionnaire based on previous semi-structured interviews. Background knowledge was provided by showing two videos, introducing basic concepts of genetics and general information about different categories of UFs (actionable, non-actionable, reproductive significance, unknown significance).


In total 1072 patients were included of whom 701 participants completed the whole questionnaire. Overall, 686 (85.1%) participants wanted to be informed about UFs in general. After introduction of four UFs categories, 113 participants (14.8%) changed their answer: 718 (94.2%) participants opted for actionable variants, 537 (72.4%) for non-actionable variants, 635 (87.0%) participants for UFs of reproductive significance and 521 (71.8%) for UFs of unknown significance. Men were more interested in receiving certain UFs than women: non-actionable: OR 3.32; 95% CI 2.05 to 5.37, reproductive significance: OR 1.97; 95% CI 1.05 to 3.67 and unknown significance: OR 2.00; 95% CI 1.25 to 3.21. In total, 244 (33%) participants conceded family members to have access to their UFs while still alive. 603 (82%) participants agreed to information being shared with relatives, after they would pass away.


Our study showed that the vast majority of patients with cancer desires to receive all UFs of genome testing, although a substantial minority does not wish to receive non-actionable findings. Incorporation of categories in informed consent procedures supports patients in making informed decisions on UFs.

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