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Gene signature may improve colon cancer treatment
Date:2/26/2010

A gene signature, first identified in mouse colon cancer cells, may help identify patients at risk of colon cancer recurrence, according to a recent study by Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers.

The findings, published in the March issue of Gastroenterology, could help personalize treatments for colon cancer the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States by identifying patients most likely to benefit from chemotherapy.

In its early stages, colorectal cancer is treated with surgery only. However, between 20 percent and 25 percent of patients with Stage II disease (when the tumor has penetrated the muscular wall of the colon) will experience metastatic recurrence after surgical resection alone.

For stage III, when the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, surgery is generally followed by chemotherapy despite research showing that about 40 percent of stage III patients treated by surgery alone do not have a recurrence of disease in five years.

This suggests that identifying stage II patients at the greatest risk for recurrence and targeting adjuvant chemotherapy to them could decrease recurrences in that group. In addition, those stage III patients at lowest risk, if prospectively identified, could avoid having potentially toxic chemotherapy.

Using a mouse colon cancer cell line, R. Daniel Beauchamp, M.D., the John Clinton Foshee Distinguished Professor of Surgery and chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences, and colleagues identified 300 genes that showed distinct patterns of expression related to their ability to invade into a gel-like matrix, a test that reflects the aggressiveness of cancer cells.

Statistical analysis, led by Yu Shyr, Ph.D., the Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and professor of Biostatistics, helped refine the initial set of 300 genes into a set of 34 genes that were most closely associated with metastasis and death in a set of human colon can
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Contact: Melissa Marino
melissa.marino@vanderbilt.edu
615-322-4747
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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