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Liver cancer marker could yield blood test for early detection
Date:9/18/2007

ATLANTA In the face of an emerging liver cancer crisis in Asia, researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong have developed a test that could help millions. Due to widespread hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, nearly 10 percent of Chinas population is at high risk for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a liver cancer with low survival rates if not detected and treated early. Researchers report on a new blood screening technique that could make it possible to detect early-stage liver cancer and predict how well a patient will do following treatment. They present their data today at the American Association for Cancer Researchs Second International Conference on Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development, in Atlanta, Georgia.

According to their report, the Chinese team has detected an altered version of RASSF1A, a tumor suppressing gene, in the blood of HCC patients and in 58 percent of HBV-infected test subjects. Healthy subjects showed no signs of the altered gene. They also found that patients treated for HCC with high blood levels of the gene were more likely to have a relapse of the disease.

A large portion of the population throughout Hong Kong and China are carriers of hepatitis B, so many people are at risk for hepatocellular carcinoma, said K.C. Allen Chan, MBBS a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. And we hope that this will form the basis of an effective clinical test for early detection of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Hepatocellular carcinoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer in China and throughout Asia, according to the researchers. In the West, liver cancer is usually a secondary cancer, caused by the spread of tumor cells from elsewhere in the body. In China, however, liver cancer mainly manifests as HCC, a primary cancer, which has been linked to hepatitis B and C infection and cirrhosis. Noticeable symptoms do not usually appear until the cancer has progressed, so it is rarely caug
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Contact: Greg Lester
lester@aacr.org
267-646-0554
American Association for Cancer Research
Source:Eurekalert

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