Stem cell scientists have developed a new and more accurate way of spotting aggressive forms of bowel cancer by allowing for tailored treatment that should improve patients’ chances of survival. People with the most aggressive kind of cancer could be identified early by testing for a stem cell marker protein called Lamin A.
The team concluded that patients testing positive for Lamin A should be given chemotherapy, in addition to surgery, to increase their chances of survival. This discovery is another example of new tests being developed throught the use of stem cells that can help doctors decide how and when to treat different types of cancer.
In the two earliest of the four key stages of bowel cancer, patients normally have an operation to remove their tumor, but are rarely given chemotherapy, because these blasts of radiation often do more harm than good. The new research, however, suggests that around one third of these early-stage patients will have the Lamin A stem cell marker, indicating a more serious form of disease, and are likely to benefit from chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can be very useful, but can have a number of side effects, so it should only be used when there is an excellent chance that it will help.