Taiwan researchers discover blood marker for metastatic cancer

May 20th, 2009 - 9:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Taipei, May 20 (DPA) A Taiwan hospital announced Wednesday it has discovered a blood marker for detecting metastatic cancer.
“Foreign doctors have discovered blood marker for cancer before, but this is the first time a blood marker has been found for metastatic cancer, or cancers that can spread to other parts of the body,” Chiang Ming-chung, a member of the research team, told DPA by phone.

“Currently, hospitals use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound scan, X-ray and other equipment to check for cancer. Such equipment is expensive. In some backward countries, hospitals cannot afford (such equipment), so this new testing method using the blood marker will be very helpful,” he said.

Researchers at the Tung’s hospital discovered the blood marker - described only as “a serological cancer metastatic marker” - while doing research on a cancer-related gene.

They studied by collecting serum samples from 164 patients with various types of cancer, ultimately concluding that the blood marker is a secretory protein linked to metastatic cancer.

Chiang said the blood marker they found can help screen a dozen types of cancer - including breast cancer, lung cancer, oral cancer and colon cancer - to see if they have spread to other parts of the body.

The Tung’s hospital in Taichung County in Taiwan, has applied to the Department of Health (DOH) for permission to use the new screening method on cancer patients.

The hospital has also applied for a patent for the blood marker.

The discovery was reported in the May issue of the international medical journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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