Published online Jan 15, 2018. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v10.i1.15
Peer-review started: October 25, 2017
First decision: November 9, 2017
Revised: November 10, 2017
Accepted: December 6, 2017
Article in press: December 6, 2017
Published online: January 15, 2018
This review article summarizes the research advances of the plasma-based SEPT9 gene methylation assay for the clinical detection of colorectal cancer and its limitations. Colorectal cancer is a common malignancy with a poor prognosis and a high mortality, for which early detection and diagnosis are particularly crucial for the high-risk groups. Increasing evidence supported that SEPT9 gene methylation is associated with the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer and that detecting the level of methylation of SEPT9 in the peripheral blood can be used for screening of colorectal cancer in susceptible populations. In recent years, the data obtained in clinical studies demonstrated that the SEPT9 gene methylation assay has a good diagnostic performance with regard to both sensitivity and specificity with the advantage of better acceptability, convenience and compliance with serological testing compared with fecal occult blood tests and carcinoembryonic antigen for colorectal cancer (CRC). Furthermore, the combination of multiple methods or markers has become a growing trend for CRC detection and screening. Nevertheless, the clinical availability of the methylated SEPT9 assay is still limited because of the large degree of sample heterogeneity caused by demographic characteristics, pathological features, comorbidities and/or technique selection. Another factor is the cost-effectiveness of colorectal cancer screening strategies that hinders its large-scale application. In addition, improvements in its accuracy in detecting adenomas and premalignant polyps are required.
Core tip: The methylated SEPT9 gene has been implicated as a biomarker for colorectal cancer associated with the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer (CRC). In this article, we reviewed the literature on the correlation of SEPT9 gene and colorectal cancer and the theoretical basis of the SEPT9 gene methylation assay. Then, we focused on the diagnostic performance of the SEPT9 gene methylation assay for CRC by analyzing the clinical trial studies and compared that assay with other methods. Finally, we discussed the limitations of the SEPT9 gene methylation assay in clinical application. We hope that this article can provide a comprehensive overview of the progress achieved in the SEPT9 methylation assay for both the basic and clinical sciences.