Patients with gastric cancer who have a certain type of inherited variation in the CD44 gene experience a significantly shorter time to disease recurrence (2.1 years) compared with patients without the genetic variation (seven years), according to the results of a study presented at the 2010 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in Orlando, Florida.
Gastric cancer refers to cancer of the stomach. Though gastric cancer has a relatively low incidence in the United States, it is the second leading cause of cancer death worldwide. The incidence of gastric cancer is quite high in Asian countries such as Korea, China, Taiwan, and Japan.
Researchers from the University of Southern California investigated the relationship between CD44 variations and time to recurrence in 104 patients with localized gastric cancer. Using DNA from blood samples taken between 1992 and 2008, they analyzed four variants within the CD44 gene.
They found that patients who had specific variants in the CD44 gene experienced a much shorter time to cancer recurrence than those who did not. Specifically, patients who had the variants had a mean time to recurrence of 2.1 years compared with seven years for those without the variants.
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The discovery marked the first time that researchers have identified genetic variations that are associated with clinical outcomes in localized gastric cancer. More research is likely, but the development is important in an age of targeted therapies that are being designed to individualize treatment based on genetic characteristics.
 Winder T, Zhang W, Yang D, et al. Association of germline polymorphism in the CD44 gene with clinical outcome in localized gastric adenocarcinoma. Presented at the 2010 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in Orlando, Florida. January 22-24. Abstract #2.