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ASCO: Pancreatic, Gastric Cancer Markers Assessed

Blood test for antigen in pancreatic cancer, genetic variation in gastric cancer studied

MONDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- A simple blood test may identify early pancreatic cancer. In addition, a variation in the CD44 gene may predict more aggressive gastric cancer, according to two studies presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, held from Jan. 22 to 24 in Orlando, Fla.

In one study, David V. Gold, Ph.D., of the Garden State Cancer Center in Belleville, N.J., and colleagues measured blood levels of PAM4 protein -- an antigen present in almost 90 percent of pancreatic cancers and precancers -- in 68 patients who underwent pancreatic cancer surgery and 19 healthy controls. They found that the test had high sensitivities for detecting stage I, stage II, and stages III to IV pancreatic cancers (62, 86, and 91 percent, respectively) and an overall sensitivity of 81 percent.

In a second study, Thomas Winder, M.D., of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues studied 104 patients with localized gastric cancer. They found that patients who had least one G allele (GG; AG) at the CD44 +4883G > A gene locus had a significantly shorter time to recurrence compared to patients without the variation (2.1 versus seven years).

"We found that the PAM4 protein is quite accurate at identifying patients with pancreatic cancer and, if validated in larger studies, would be a promising tool for detecting this disease in its earlier, more treatable stages, before it spreads to other organs," Gold said in a statement.

Two authors of the first study reported financial relationships with Immunomedics.

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