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Stomach cancer categorised; leads hopes for faster treatment

Scientists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified stomach cancer into four different sub-types based on the mutations and molecular abnormalities that each one holds. Experts in the field say that the new classification of stomach tumours promises to advance clinical research and development of improved and more importantly – specific – treatment for each individual type.

As reported in Nature, investigators at the Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network said they had analysed 300 samples of stomach cancer looking for ways to ‘tell them apart’ judging their DNA defects and molecular structures.

Grouping the cancers in this way will help scientists enrol patients in clinical trials that are testing drugs designed to target their individual particular stomach cancer sub-type.

Stomach cancer is currently the third-leading cancer worldwide, with the male population often being affected more than the female, and research on the disease has been difficult due to the huge amount of varying factors contributing to each individual case such as inherited genes, diet, ethnicity, smoking and geography all differing.

By categorising each type of stomach cancer the research team have detected – four, in total – it leads hopes that stomach cancer survival rates will improve dramatically. As one of the more aggressive cancers, most patients find that treatment either works and then stops or doesn’t work at all, leading to multiple treatments being carried out in a bid to fight the growths and stop the disease in its tracks. By identifying each type of tumour and categorising it, further research will be able to determine what treatments are most effective on growths within that category, minimising the waiting time it takes for stomach cancer patients to respond to treatment, and getting a better result than we’ve ever seen before.

Whilst the stomach cancer incidence rate is at its lowest peak for over fifty years, it’s thought that after categorisation and easy, local identification of tumours has been reached in clinics across the world, treatment for each individual stomach cancer category is likely to be implemented, too.

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