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Hummel, Michael; Hegewisch-Becker, Susanna; Neumann, Jens H. L. and Vogel, Arndt (2021): BRAF testing in metastatic colorectal carcinoma and novel, chemotherapy-free therapeutic options. In: Pathologe, Vol. 42, No. SUPPL 1: pp. 98-109

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In the past 25 years, treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) has undergone profound changes. The approval of newer chemotherapeutics such as irinotecan and oxaliplatin was followed in 2005 by the first targeted therapies, for example, monoclonal antibodies directed against the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), as cetuximab and panitumumab, or the angiogenesis inhibitors bevacizumab, ramucirumab, and aflibercept. With the rapidly progressing molecular characterization of mCRC in the last 10 years and the classification of the disease in four consensus subtypes, further changes are emerging, which will promote, among other things, the introduction of protein-kinase inhibitors developed for specific molecular aberrations as well as immune checkpoint inhibitors into the treatment algorithm. Thorough molecular pathologic testing is indispensable today for guideline-compliant treatment of mCRC patients. In addition to RAS testing as a precondition for the therapy decision with regard to cetuximab and panitumumab, BRAF testing is of considerable relevance to allow decision making with regard to the newly approved chemotherapy-free combination of the BRAF inhibitor encorafenib and cetuximab in cases where a BRAF-V600E mutation is detected. Additional diagnostic tests should also include genome instability (microsatellite instability). Overall, more and more molecular alterations need to be investigated simultaneously, so that the use of focused next-generation sequencing is increasingly recommended. This overview describes the prognostic relevance of BRAF testing in the context of molecular pathologic diagnostics of mCRC, presents new treatment options for BRAF-mutated mCRC patients, and explains which modern DNA analytical and immunohistochemical methods are available to detect BRAF mutations in mCRC patients.

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