Using a DNA component, Columbia University scientists say they've discovered a new way to detect liver cancer much earlier than before, a finding that may successfully fight what has been considered a death sentence for most people who get the disease.
According to a news release from the university's Mailman School of Public Health, hepatocellular or liver carcinomas (HCC) are usually diagnosed at such an advanced stage that survival is usually not possible. Using blood from 24 000 Taiwanese people from a study begun in 1991, the researchers were able to isolate a DNA biomarker from blood serum.
The researchers then were able to identify the gene changes that identified malignancy in the liver. The change was detected one-to-nine years before actual clinical diagnosis, according to the University news release.
"Having the tools to identify hepatocellular carcinoma at earlier stages, is truly a breakthrough for addressing the challenges that result from this highly lethal form of cancer," the news release quotes Regina Santella, the principal investigator, as saying.
The study results are published in the April 15, 2007 issue of Clinical Cancer Research. – (HealthDayNews)