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Tag for aggressive bowel cancer

20th August 2008

A team of British-based scientists say they have made a breakthrough which will enable them to pinpoint patients most likely to develop a virulent strain of bowel cancer.

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In a study of samples from 700 bowel cancer patients, the team from Durham University/ North East England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI) say they have found a marker for aggressive bowel cancers needing the most treatment through a test which looks for the marker protein Lamin A.

In their work published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE, they recommend that such patients be given chemotherapy in addition to standard surgery to improve survival.

The next step is to develop the detection-test for use within the health service.

Study co-author Professor Chris Hutchison of Durham University/NESCI said: "Currently the hospitals use a standard test to work out how far the cancer has progressed and then they use this to determine the treatment the patient should receive.

"However, we are potentially able to more accurately predict who would benefit from chemotherapy."

More than 36,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK each year making it the third most common form of cancer in this country.

Professor Robert Wilson, consultant surgeon and bowel cancer specialist at The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, said that while chemotherapy was useful, it can have side effects and that it was important to determine patients where it will be of most benefit.

Cancer Research UK welcomed the findings and which it said could move a step closer towards an "era of more personalised medicine."

 

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