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Genetic test identifies eye cancer tumors likely to spread
Date:5/14/2012

tic test."

Testing tumor tissue from his own ocular melanoma patients at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University in St. Louis, Harbour found that the gene expression profile test was very good at identifying the two classes of tumors. Then he started recruiting other centers to test the method, too.

"It doesn't make for a good test if it works really well for us, but it doesn't really work for anybody else," Harbour says.

Doctors at the other centers collected tumor samples and shipped them to Harbour's lab. Not knowing anything about which tumor samples came from which patients, the lab then analyzed the samples and made predictions about which tumors were likely to spread. Although it can take up to five years before there is any evidence that cancer has spread beyond the eye, this study went back less than two years later and tested predictions against what actually had happened.

Almost 62 percent of those tested (276 patients) had class 1 tumors, which were unlikely to spread. About a year and a half after the samples were tested, only three of those tumors had metastasized. Meanwhile, 38 percent of those tested (170 patients) had class 2 tumors, indicating that spread of the cancer was more likely. In that group, 44 (26 percent) developed metastatic disease during the study period. Had patients been followed longer, more likely would have experienced spread of their cancer. Statistical predictions estimate that among class 2 patients, about 60 percent would have metastatic disease within three years, and approximately 80 percent in five years.

"In this relatively short study period, the test worked as well as in the larger group of patients as it had in our patients," Harbour says. "That was important because it validated not only that our test was an accurate predictor of which patients will develop metastasis, but it also proved that the test can be performed successfu
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Contact: Jim Dryden
jdryden@wustl.edu
314-286-0110
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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