News Roundup [abridged Versions Appear In The Paper Journal]

Genetic test can show whether drugs to treat colon cancer will work

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 24 July 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:183
  1. David Spurgeon
  1. Quebec

    A new study indicates that a simple genetic test can determine whether chemotherapy will be effective in treating colon cancer, the fourth commonest cancer in developed countries and the second leading cause of death from cancer in North America.

    The study, led by doctors and researchers from Princess Margaret Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, and involving other researchers in the United States and France, showed that patients with a mutation in their tumours did not benefit from chemotherapy, which can cause major unpleasant side effects (N Engl J Med 2003;349:247-57).

    The mutation is called high frequency microsatellite instability. Microsatellites are stretches of DNA in which a short …

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