A Unique Pattern of Gene Activity that Can Predict Liver Cancer Spread

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Liver Cancer Prediction

Researchers have found that a unique pattern of activity for genes in cells located in the tissue surrounding a liver tumor can accurately predict whether the cancer will spread to other parts of the liver or to other parts of the body. This preliminary research was led by a team of researchers, including several from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other institutes, who report these findings in the August 2006 issue of Cancer Cell.

"Research into the role of inflammation in hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer, is very important because inflammation is one of the first lines of defense mobilized by the immune system in response to tissue injury or infection. A better understanding of the inflammatory process will hopefully lead to better treatments for this deadly disease," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.

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"Persistent and extensive inflammation of the liver is a common problem in hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC, patients," said Xin Wei Wang, Ph.D., head, Liver Carcinogenesis Unit at NCI's Center for Cancer Research and study leader. "We wanted to examine the role that the large number of immune cells in the liver may play in supporting spread of the tumor."

"The tendency of hepatocellular carcinoma tumors to metastasize or recur following surgery contributes to the poor outcome associated with this disease," said NCI Acting Director John E. Niederhuber, M.D. "Accurately predicting this cancer's risk of spread will help doctors decide on the best options to use in treating patients."

Researchers analyzed gene expression signatures

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