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International Team Reveals First Prognosticator of Survival in Aggressive Cancer E-mail
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The tumor suppressor gene pRb2/p130 may provide the first independent prognostic biomarker in cases of soft tissue sarcoma (STS), according to an international collaboration of researchers, including scientists at the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at the College of Science and Technology at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, the Department of Human Pathology and Oncology, University of Siena and the Center of Oncological Research of Mercogliano (CROM) in Avellino, Italy.

The research appear in the latest issue of Clinical Cancer Research (http://www.aacrjournals.org),

The findings show that a reduction in the expression of pRb2/p130 can mean a higher risk of recurrence and death from STSs. The gene pRb2/p130, a member of the retinoblastoma family of genes, regulates a portion of the cell cycle.

Clinicians have long sought a prognostic test for the disease, which can be highly aggressive and unpredictable, making it difficult to determine the most beneficial course of chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments following surgery.

A prognostic indicator will help doctors determine which patients have a higher risk of recurrence of the disease and who might benefit from a more aggressive adjuvant therapy.

In the study, researchers examined specimens taken from 41 patients with STS. In a subset of 31 cases of nonmetastatic cancers, they found a direct relationship between pRb2/p130 expression and the clinical outcome of patients.

"We found that pRb2/p130 expression was lost or decreased and significantly correlated with recurrence of disease and poor survival rates in the subset of patients with nonmetastatic tumors," said Valeria Masciullo, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study.

"A prognostic test could define the natural history of STSs, while also helping to identify possible targets for new kinds of therapies," said Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., the Director of the Sbarro Institute, Professor of Molecular Biology at the College of Science and Technology at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA and Full Professor of Pathological Anatomy and Histology of the University of Siena.

The researchers noted that the reliability of pRb2/p130 as a potential marker in the clinical routine assessment and management of patients with STS deserves to be further evaluated in long-term follow-up studies on a larger number of cases.

In addition to the organization listed above participating researchers who collaborated in the study were affiliated with the Department of Pathology, San Giovanni Battista Hospital, the Department of Medical Oncology, Gradenigo Hospital, Turin, Italy and the Division of Gynecologic Oncology and Institute of General Pathology, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy.

About Cancer

Cancer (medical term: malignant neoplasm) is the general name for a group of more than 100 diseases in which a group of cells display uncontrolled growth (division beyond the normal limits), invasion (intrusion on and destruction of adjacent tissues), and sometimes metastasis (spread to other locations in the body via lymph or blood). These three malignant properties of cancers differentiate them from benign tumors, which are self-limited, do not invade or metastasize. Most cancers form a tumor but some, like leukemia, do not. The branch of medicine concerned with the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer is oncology.

Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. Most cancers are named for the organ or type of cell in which they start - for example, cancer that begins in the colon is called colon cancer; cancer that begins in basal cells of the skin is called basal cell carcinoma.

Cancer types can be grouped into broader categories. The main categories of cancer include:

  • Carcinoma - a cancer which is derived from the lining cells, or epithelium, of an organ. There are 4 major types of epithelium in the body (Glandular, squamous, transitional, and pseudostratified). Some types are only found in a few select organs such as the lung (pseudostratified) or urinary bladder (transitional).  Carcinomas can arise from any of these epithelial types. For example, breast carcinoma is most commonly derived from the lining cells of the milk producing glands. A carcinoma with a glandular growth pattern is an adenocarcinoma.  Common adenocarcinomas include prostate, colon, and breast.  A carcinoma with a growth pattern resembling the squamous lining cells is termed a squamous cell carcinoma.  Common squamous cell carcinomas are found in the esophagus and skin.  However, any of these organs may have either type of carcinoma arising from it, although these latter diagnoses are exceedingly rare.
  • Central nervous system cancers - cancers that begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Leukemia - cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the blood.
  • Lymphoma - a cancer derived from the white blood cells that are present in the lymphoid tissues of the body.  These sites most commonly include the lymph nodes and spleen. However, lymphomas may arise from any organ and body site.
  • Sarcoma - cancer that begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue.

Today, millions of people are living with cancer or have had cancer. The risk of developing most types of cancer can be reduced by changes in a person's lifestyle, for example, by quitting smoking, limiting time in the sun, being physically active, and eating a better diet. Half of all men and one-third of all women in the US will develop cancer during their lifetimes.

Although doctors often cannot explain why one person develops cancer and another does not, research shows that certain risk factors increase the chance that a person will develop cancer. Nearly all cancers are caused by abnormalities in the genetic material of the transformed cells. These abnormalities may be due to the effects of carcinogens, such as tobacco smoke, radiation, chemicals, or viruses, bacteria, and certain hormones. Other cancer-promoting genetic abnormalities may be randomly acquired through errors in DNA replication, or are inherited, and thus present in all cells from birth.  Other common risk factors for cancer include:

  • Growing Older
  • Family history of cancer
  • Poor diet, lack of physical activity, or being overweight
  • Alcohol
 
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