New Biomarker to predict Cancer Recurrence or Metastasis

A protein variant of carboxypeptidase E has now been shown to induce tumor growth and metastases. By measuring the level of this protein in the tumor and surrounding tissue, we may soon be able to predict whether a tumor is likely to spread or has already spread. The predictability of tumor behavior, using this new novel biomarker, appears to trump the outcomes based on staging and grade of the tumor. The tempo of the disease even in patients with advanced cancer can be predicted measuring the levels of this biomarker, with tumors expressing high levels of this protein doing poorly. This  may also help the clinician determine when to treat a patient with cancer and when to just monitor without pursuing aggressive chemotherapeutic intervention.

These findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation,  Feb  2011.

Environment and Cancer

More than a third of Americans will develop some form of cancer during their life time. Interestingly 80-90% of the cancers in the western hemisphere has been attributed to environmental factors. With cancer being the second common cause of mortality in the USA, prevention of cancer related morbidity and mortality can be accomplished by avoiding environmental pollution with carcinogens and eliminating exposure to existing carcinogenic agents in the environment. This sentiment was eloquently verbalized by Dr. David Christiani in the March 3, 2011 issue of the NEJM.

Despite the progress made in cancer treatment and Genomics, we cannot lose sight of the fact that prevention is better than cure.