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New Stanford model establishes guidelines for earlier cancer detection
Date:11/16/2011

gators linked these to additional models of tumor cell growth.

Tumors don't secrete drugs, but they can shed telltale molecules into surrounding tissue, from which those substances, known as biomarkers, diffuse into the blood. Some biomarkers may be made predominantly by tumor cells, while others exclusively by them. Either way, these substances can be measured in the blood as proxies for a tumor.

Some biomarkers are in wide use today. One is the well-known PSA, for prostate cancer. Another is CA125, for ovarian cancer. But these and other currently used blood tests for cancer biomarkers weren't specifically developed for early detection, and are generally more effective for relatively noninvasive monitoring of the progress of late-stage tumors or their response to treatment. (Rising blood levels of the substance indicate that the tumor is growing, while declining levels denote possible shrinkage.)

Both CA125 and PSA are also produced, albeit in smaller amounts, by healthy tissue, complicating efforts to detect cancer at an early stage when the tumor's output of the biomarker is relatively low.

The new mathematical model employs separate equations, each governing the movement of a biomarker from one compartment into the next. Into these equations, one can plug known values such as how fast a particular type of tumor grows, how much of the biomarker a tumor cell of this type sheds per hour and the minimum levels of the biomarker that must be present in the blood for a currently available assay to detect it.

As a test case, Gambhir and Hori chose CA125, a well-studied biomarker shed into blood by ovarian tumors. Ovarian cancer is a notorious example of a condition for which early detection would make a huge difference in survival outcomes.

CA125 is a protein made almost exclusively by ovarian tumor cells. The pharmacokinetics, metabolic fates, typical amounts secreted by an ovarian cell and other properties of CA1
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Contact: Bruce Goldman
goldmanb@stanford.edu
650-725-2106
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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