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Metastasis Of Ocular Melanoma To Liver Can Now Be Calculated

Scientists claim to have developed a technique to find out if metastasis from the eye cancer will make its way to the liver.//

J. William Harbour, M.D., the Paul A. Cibis Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and associate professor of cell biology and molecular oncology, had reported on the screening test at the American Academy of Cancer Research meeting in Chicago on the 13th September.

"About half of patients with ocular melanoma develop metastasis in the liver," says Harbour, who directs the ocular oncology service at the School of Medicine. "Ocular melanoma has a strong propensity to spread to the liver, and when it does, it usually leads to death within a very short time."

Doctors have known for many years that patient age, tumour size and location and shape of tumour cells all could help predict whether ocular melanoma was likely to spread. But none of those factors were accurate enough to influence treatment decisions in individual patients.

Now Harbour and colleagues have found that a particular molecular signature — that is, the pattern of activation of a group of genes in the tumour cells — accurately predicts risk for metastasis. Rather than analysing a single protein or molecular factor, the test looks at how several factors work together.

"We were attempting to analyse these patterns the same way that our brain's work to recognize a face to tell whether a person is 'John' or 'Jane,'" Harbour explains. "We don't just look at a nose or an eye. We look at the whole fac
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