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USC researchers show that molecular markers predict tumor recurrence

Chicago, Il., June 5, 2007 -- Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) have identified specific molecular markers that may help to predict tumor recurrence in stage II and III colon cancer patients.

The findings may also help identify stage II colon cancer patients who are more likely to benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy following surgery, says Georg Lurje M.D., research associate at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC).

The study was presented Tuesday, June 5 at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held at McCormick Place in Chicago.

For patients who undergo surgery for stage III colon cancerin which the tumor has spread to the lymph nodesadditional chemotherapy is recommended to prevent tumor recurrence, Lurje says. While surgery alone is usually effective for treating stage II cancer, 20 to 30 percent of patients do develop tumor recurrence and die from the disease, he says.

This study is the very first to demonstrate that genes in the angiogenesis pathway play a critical role in tumor relapse, says Heinz-Josef Lenz, M.D., professor of medicine at the Keck School and the principal investigator on the study. These molecular markers not only help us to identify patients who are at high risk, but they may be critical to selecting the most efficient therapy.

Angiogenesis refers to the blood vessel formation that provides nutrients and oxygen to cancerous growths. Researchers analyzed blood specimens that were obtained at USC medical facilities between 1999 and 2007, testing whether a specific pattern of polymorphisms in 33 genes involved in cancer progression predicted tumor recurrence. Of the 197 patients who participated, 72 patients had stage II and 125 had stage III colon cancer.

Researchers identified the vascular endothelial growth factor protein (VEGF) and its receptor VEGFR-2 as one of the most importa
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Contact: Meghan Lewit
lewit@usc.edu
323-442-2830
University of Southern California
5-Jun-2007


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