Stanford University Study Reveals Most Colorectal Cancers have Spread Before Diagnosis

Stanford University Study of Colorectal Cancers

Colorectal cancers in many cases have spread before the initial tumor is detected, based on a breakthrough new Stanford University study. The conclusion of the study finds patients who are identified to have early metastasis can potentially be guided in their treatment decisions based on the tumor detection.

Stanford Medicine News Center’s Krista Conger reports that lead researcher Christina Curtis and her colleagues found that colon cancer tumors could potentially spread to other parts of the body much earlier than previously understood.

In fact, the venerable Silicon Valley institution reveals that up to 80% of metastatic colorectal cancers are likely to have spread to distant locations in the body before the original tumor has exceeded the size of a poppy seed, according to the study posted here.

Follow the link for granular details of how Curtis and the team uncovered this shocking discovery.


  • National Institutes of Health
  • American Cancer Society
  • Wunderglo Foundation
  • Emmerson Collective Cancer Research Fund
  • Innovative Genomics Initiative
  • National Cancer Institute
  • Stanford Department of Genetics and Medicine

Lead Research/Investigator

Christine Curtis led the study. She is a member of the Stanford Cancer Institute and of Stanford Bio-X. Curtis is a scientific advisor to Menlo Park-based GRAIL Inc. She consults for GRAIL and Genentech.

Other researchers:

  • Jie Ding, PhD; senior research scientists
  • Zhicheng Ma, MD
  • Ruping Sun, PhD
  • Jose Seoane, PhD
  • J. Scott Shaffer
  • Carlos Suarez, MD

Other researchers from Medical University of Vienna, the University of Pisa, University of Padua and the University of Southern California contributed to the study.