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Metastasis Of Ocular Melanoma To Liver Can Now Be Calculated

e. And in this project we used computer software to look at many, many features of the tumour simultaneously."

Harbour's efforts identified two classes of tumours with distinct molecular signatures. One signature, called class 1, carries a low risk of metastasis - less than 90%. Tumours with a class 2 signature have a greater than 90 percent chance of spreading to the liver.

When he first identified the molecular signatures, Harbour was testing tumour tissue taken from cancerous eyes that had been surgically removed. But only about 10 percent of ocular melanoma patients have such drastic surgery. Most have tumours that are small enough to be treated with radiation therapy.

Because the eye remains intact in the vast majority of patients, Harbour's team needed to learn whether it is possible to run the molecular test on tumour samples gathered with a fine needle biopsy.

And the answer was 'yes.' "Even with the small amount of tumour tissue you get from a needle biopsy, the accuracy of the test is comparable to what we found when we had the entire tumour to work with," he says.

Harbour's molecular test can detect both whether a tumour is likely to spread to the liver and how fast. Some tumours tend to spread quickly while others take several years.

The researchers found two sub-groups of class 2 tumours, which differ mainly in a particular region of chromosome 8. One of these subgroups has lost a section of DNA called the short arm of chromosome 8, what's known as chromosome 8p.

"If a patient has a class 2 tumour, and they have lost chromosome 8p, then that person is at high risk for spread of the cancer into the liver and at high risk that it will occur rapidly," he says.

Knowing that the cancer is likely to spread quickly from the eye to the liver may allow for earlier, preventive treatments in high-risk patients. Harbour says at the very least, a person with a class 2 mol
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