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Genetic signature may predict recurrence of prostate cancer

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Researchers working with breast cancer stem cells have found 186 genes that together can predict the risk of recurrence in breast cancer patients.

Researchers working with breast cancer stem cells have found 186 genes that together can predict the risk of recurrence in breast cancer patients. Additionally, the same genes predict the recurrence of prostate cancer, according to researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (N Engl J Med 2007; 356:217-26).

“These data suggest that there are some fundamental properties of the malignancy that are shared between many types of tumors,” said lead author Michael Clarke, MD, of Stanford.

The findings confirm the theory that malignancy is the result of an interaction between the cancer cells in the tumor and the environment.

Dr. Clarke and his colleagues also found they could predict aggressive cancers with even greater accuracy when they combined the 186-gene signature with another previously identified group of genes in the cells surrounding the tumor. He has already begun working with surgeons to help translate these findings into tools that will help doctors zero in on the best treatment for individual cancer patients.

Over time, Dr. Clarke said, researchers will likely be able to refine the list of genes needed to more accurately determine a patient's risk of recurrence. A smaller list of genes could make a genetic profiling test more cost-effective for widespread use.

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