Here are some of the most exciting advances in gastric cancer research reported over the past few months:
New Chemical Technique May Boost Surgery Success
One of the best ways to improve survival odds for patients facing gastric cancer is for surgeons to be able to confirm they’re removing every single cancer cell from the stomach. Scientists at Stanford University have developed a method of chemical analysis that they believe will help surgeons find cancer cells that might otherwise be missed by pathology labs, which typically analyze tissue samples during procedures. The technique uses a tool called mass spectrometry to track differences between the chemical profiles of normal tissues and tumors. The scientists tested their method on tissue samples from gastric cancer patients, and discovered they could find hidden cancer cells far more frequently-and more quickly-than typical pathology labs could. The scientists are currently planning larger trials to validate the technique.[Read more]
Researchers Identify Early Signs of Gastric Cancer
It has long been known that Helicobacter pylori infection can be a risk factor for gastric cancer, but what’s not known is why the bug is harmless in some people but causes stomach tumors to form in others. An international team of researchers has identified a set of “glycans,” or sugars attached to proteins, that they believe could help doctors identify the patients who are at most risk for developing gastric cancers. Scientists at the University of California at Davis, working with teams in Mexico and South Korea, showed significant differences in the glycan profiles of patients with gastric cancer and those with gastritis or ulcers, which they published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research. Further study is needed to confirm the information could be used to predict gastric cancer, but if it pans out, the researchers believe the data could be used to create a diagnostic test that physicians could use with patients who have H.pylori. [Read more]
Could the Microbiome Play a Role in Gastric Cancer?
Over the past few years, the scientific community has become more and more interested in the “microbiome”-the 100 trillion or so bacteria that live in our gut, helping us digest our food, fight infections and perform other normal daily functions. Now evidence is emerging that the microbiome could play a role in the formation of gastric cancer, and therefore could be an important target for new therapies. Most recently, researchers in Mexico compared the microbiomes of patients with gastritis, a pre-cancerous condition called intestinal metaplasia, and gastric cancer. They charted differences in the bacterial makeup of the microbiome in each type of patient-a progression of changes that could be an important first step in understanding the role of bacterial transformations in gastric cancer, the scientists say in a report published in the journal Scientific Reports. [Read more]