ASCO: Cancer Markers Hold Promise for Improved Treatment

Molecular markers may help select patients with best chance for therapy benefit, aid in prognosis

FRIDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Assessment of molecular cancer markers may lead to more carefully targeted treatments and provide more data for estimating patients' prognoses, according to research presented at the Molecular Markers in Cancer annual meeting, being held Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 in Hollywood, Fla.

One study, which assessed pooled data from four earlier studies involving 715 patients receiving panitumumab for metastatic colorectal cancer, found that the drug is probably only effective for treating the disease in patients whose tumors have the wild-type form of the KRAS gene as opposed to a mutated form, with 13.7 percent and 0 percent responding, respectively.

In a second study, which included 2,281 patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, those with EGFR gene mutations in their blood and tumor tissue had a shorter survival following treatment with erlotinib than those with EGFR mutations in their tumors only. In a third study, of 360 patients with pancreatic cancer treated with the Whipple procedure, those with high levels of the S100A2 protein in their tumors had a median survival of 8.8 months, compared with 19.4 months in patients whose tumors were free of the protein.

"The ability to personalize patient care based on a cancer's molecular makeup will continue to improve outcomes, help patients avoid therapies that may not be effective, and potentially reduce the cost of cancer care," Ramona Swaby, M.D., of the Fox Chase Cancer Center said at a press briefing for the meeting.

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