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Promising predictive test in bladder cancer

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by Cancer Research UK | News

1 September 2005

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A simple test to predict how well bladder cancers will respond to radiotherapy could enable doctors to tailor the best treatment for their patients, according to a study published today.*

Scientists at the Cancer Research UK Clinical Centre in Leeds have shown that the levels of two particular proteins are associated with the effectiveness of radiotherapy. Patients who responded well to radiotherapy tended to have more of these proteins.

Bladder cancer can be treated with surgery, but some patients prefer to have the option of radiotherapy. However, radiotherapy only works on some tumours.

A test that accurately predicts whether or not a tumour will respond to radiotherapy would mean doctors could offer different treatment options for their patients.

The proteins, called APE1 and XRCC1, are both involved in repairing damaged DNA. Because radiotherapy works by causing DNA damage in cancer cells, the researchers, funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research and Cancer Research UK, set out to characterise the link between the amount of these proteins and the cancer cells’ response to radiotherapy.

Dr Anne Kiltie, the study’s lead researcher, says: “We expected that higher levels of these repair proteins would make the tumour cells more resistant to radiation, but what we saw was that this actually made tumour cells more susceptible. We need to confirm these findings in a larger group of patients but this is a promising avenue for future research.”

Elaine King, Chief Executive, Yorkshire Cancer Research says: “This development offers significant potential for the future. This test could allow consultants to accurately identify which cancer treatment would be most suitable for each individual patient.”

Dr Lesley Walker, Director of Cancer Information at Cancer Research UK, says: “Characterising tumours can help doctors advise patients on their treatment options. This research could form the basis of a simple test to identify patients suitable for radiotherapy, so potentially they could avoid major surgery.”

ENDS

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