The following piece of investigation can supposedly empower doctors to plan effective treatment strategies for cancer patients. Cancer Research UK experts claim that classifying tumors according to their levels of chromosomal instability can boost predictions for patient survival. The research findings allegedly have profound implications in the medical zone.
At the time of the research, the chromosomal instability (CIN) status of more than 3,000 cancer patients was scrutinized. The results were then associated with patient survival data. It appeared that, patients whose tumors had moderate CIN were less likely to survive than those with very low levels of CIN. However, tumors with the most extreme chromosomal instability purportedly had a better outcome. Some of tumors included receptor negative breast cancers as well.
“It may sound paradoxical but a key challenge in cancer medicine is to determine which patients won’t derive any additional benefit from cancer chemotherapy. This may either be because patients are resistant to certain drugs – or that they have an excellent chance of survival without the need for chemotherapy. Identifying distinct patient subgroups might help doctors plan personalized cancer care and avoid unnecessary treatment,” elucidated lead researcher, Dr Charles Swanton, head of translational research at Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute.
Chromosomally unstable cells are possibly created when cell division faults can lead to more or fewer than the usual 46 chromosomes in daughter cells. These cells are supposedly linked to poor survival of patients because potentially cancer-causing mistakes are replicated haphazardly when cells divide. This in turn may produce differences from one cancer cell to the next which can allow the cancer to resist drug treatment. Researchers predict that some chromosomal instability is advantageous to cancer cells.
When chromosomal instability exceeds a certain threshold, the cancer cell is seemingly unable to function effectively and dies. It was suggested that there is a tipping point for chromosomal instability and cancer cells that exceed this threshold are unlikely to persist beyond initial treatment. Detecting patients who fall either side of the tipping point can probably help doctors distinguish high and low risk groups and target them with appropriate treatments.
The research is published in Cancer Research.