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New view of stomach cancer could hasten better therapies
Date:7/23/2014

BOSTON In a massive effort to catalog the molecular causes of stomach cancer, scientists, including researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, have identified four subtypes of tumors based on shared mutations and other molecular abnormalities. They say the new classification promises to advance clinical research to develop improved therapies for the third-leading cancer killer worldwide.

In a report in Nature, investigators of The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network said they analyzed 295 samples of gastric (stomach) cancer, looking for ways to sort them into groups with similar key DNA defects and molecular aberrations. It was extremely important, they said, to identify categories that would be useful in guiding therapy for patients.

"We clearly converged on four groups of gastric cancer with distinct features and classes of molecular alterations," said Adam Bass, MD, the corresponding author of the report. He is director for translational research for the Center for Esophageal and Gastric Cancer at Dana-Farber, and an associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Grouping the cancers in this way will help researchers enroll patients in clinical trials that test drugs designed to target their particular stomach cancer subtype, said Bass. There is an urgent need for new therapies he said, because "these are aggressive cancers and the five-year survival rate is between 20 and 25 percent."

Gastric adenocarcinomas the vast majority of stomach cancers cause more than 700,000 deaths worldwide each year. The American Cancer Society estimates that 22,220 cases will be diagnosed in the United States in 2014, with about 10,990 deaths. Stomach cancer is mainly a disease of elderly people. Infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) is a major cause. Other risk factors include diet, smoking, geography and ethnicity, and some inherited cancer syndromes.

Research on the
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Contact: Anne Doerr
anne_doerr@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-4090
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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