ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
Most Kids With Type 1 Diabetes Lack Vitamin D
Living Near Major Road May Boost Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
CANCER
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
Gene Screen May Predict Colon Cancer's Return
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
DIABETES
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
DIET, NUTRITION
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Improved Fungicides May Be Easier on Environment
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Test Could Spot Diabetes Vision Trouble Early
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
FITNESS
Bursts of Vigorous Activity Appear to Be a 'Stress-Buffer'
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Implanted Defibrillators Boost Long-Term Survival
Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Too Many Infants Short on Vitamin D
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Countdown to Hair Loss
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
SENIORS
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Add your Article

Gene Screen May Predict Colon Cancer's Return

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- The first genomic test aimed at predicting colon cancer recurrence may help individualize treatment for patients, leading to less toxic and more targeted therapy choices, scientists say.

The Oncotype DX test differentiated which patients with stage II colon cancer were more likely to have a recurrence and which were not. According to the research team, those with lower odds of recurrence might be able to forgo sometimes toxic and costly chemotherapy and stick to surgery alone.

The study is to be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, which starts later this month in Florida. The U.K. researchers described their findings Thursday in a special ASCO preview news conference.

The new gene test was not able to show whether or not chemotherapy would actually benefit the higher-risk group, the researchers said.

Still, "we think this will be a clinically useful tool when coming to select which patients will receive chemotherapy," said study lead author Dr. David Kerr, a professor of cancer medicine at the University of Oxford.

The test is very similar to the Oncotype DX test that is already available to stratify breast cancer patients by risk, added Dr. Richard L. Schilsky, president of ASCO and professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. In fact, the new colon cancer test will likely be commercialized by the same company that markets the breast cancer test, Genomic Health, he predicted. That company funded the new study.

The study authors believe the new test, which is not quite as strong a predictor as the existing breast cancer test, will be available for use in hospitals by 2010.

"One of the major challenges facing us as oncologists is selecting the right patients for the right drugs at the right time. That's what this study is all about," Kerr said.

Most individuals diagnosed with relatively early, stage II colon cancer (representing 25 to 30 percent of all cases) can be cured with surgery alone. A small minority benefit from added chemo.

But, Kerr said, "there's no clear consensus on how to select patients" who might gain from this additional chemotherapy, and weed out those who would not.

The research team started out by analyzing almost 800 genes from almost 1,900 colon cancer patients. They then tested an initial, promising gene signature in about 1,500 patients. Half of these individuals received chemo and half did not.

The presence of certain genes was able to predict those with a higher risk of recurrence and those with a lower risk, the team found.

"A seven-gene signature for the first time ever gives a significant prognostic recurrence score," Kerr said. "This allows us to define a population of patients at low risk of recurrence -- about a 10 percent chance of the cancer coming back [in three years] -- in whom I would counsel that chemotherapy would be of very little value indeed."

For the other group, recurrence rates closer to 20 or 25 percent at three years may indicate a benefit to getting chemo, he said.

Doctors already look at "T-stage" of a tumor (is it locally advanced?, etc.) as well as "mismatch repair," which refers to a gene repair mechanism, to predict recurrence. However, according to Kerr, a large group of patients would benefit from this new tool that would not benefit from the two older screens.

"The new tool is an independent important variable," Kerr said. "There would be 70 percent of patients in whom T-stage and mismatch will not be informative and we think that, in this group, the new tool will provide a useful addendum to the clinical decision-making process."

More information

There's more on colorectal cancer at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.



SOURCES: May 14, 2009, American Society of Clinical Oncology press teleconference with David Kerr, M.D., D.Sc., professor, cancer medicine, University of Oxford, and Richard L. Schilsky, M.D., president, ASCO and professor, medicine at the University of Chicago; study abstract

Last Updated: May 15, 2009

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