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Doctors learn more about diagnosing rare form of cancer

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Their experience treating a rare type of abdominal cancer has helped physicians at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center make a new discovery that may change the way it is diagnosed. The results are reported in the May issue of the American Journal of Surgical Pathology.

"Our study suggests that tumors of the appendix that have spread through the abdominal cavity all qualify as cancer," said Robert F. Bradley, M.D., principal investigator. "Previously, some of the tumors were classified as 'benign,' which we believe gives a false sense of how the tumor will behave."

Bradley, a pathology resident, and colleagues focused on 101 patients with pseudomyxoma peritonei, a rare form of cancer of the lining of the abdominal cavity. The cancer, which produces mucin, a "jelly-like" substance, usually originates in the appendix or colon and spreads to the abdominal lining. Bradley evaluated all available microscopic slides in cases proven to come from the appendix.

Wake Forest is one of a few centers in the country that offer a combined treatment surgery to remove the tumor and then infusion of heated chemotherapy drugs into the abdominal cavity. Because it treats patients from all over the country with the disease, Wake Forest had a unique opportunity to clear up confusion about its diagnosis.

"Because it is so rare less than 0.1 percent of appendices are removed for cancer -- the disease has been plagued with controversy and confusing terminology," said Bradley.

Currently, many pathologists who study sections of the tumor after surgery classify it into three general categories: high-grade cancer, low-grade cancer, and benign. All of the patients normally receive the same treatment the grade of the tumor indicates how patients will respond.

The investigators from Wake Forest compared the diagnoses made using these three grades with patients' outcome after receiving standardized treatment. Patients i
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Contact: Karen Richardson
krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu
336-716-4453
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
24-Apr-2006


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