Gene Variant May Identify Cirrhosis Patients at High Risk of Liver Cancer
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital have found that a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) - a change in a single unit of DNA - in the epidermal growth factor (EGF) gene may significantly increase the likelihood that a patient with cirrhosis will develop hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
HCC is difficult to treat and most commonly arises in patients with cirrhosis, often caused by chronic infection with the hepatitis B or C viruses. The results of this study, published in the January 2 Journal of the American Medical Association, may help identify a subset of patients who would benefit from intensified screening and possibly chemoprevention strategies. Read more
Sunitinib Linked to Heart Failure and Hypertension
Patients taking sunitinib (Sutent) should be monitored for cardiovascular side effects such as hypertension and signs of heart failure, especially those patients with a history of coronary artery disease or cardiac risk factors, a team of oncologists and cardiologists said last month in The Lancet. The recommendation is based on evidence of cardiac side effects among some patients taking sunitinib to treat gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). Sunitinib is approved to treat advanced renal cell carcinoma and metastatic GIST after resistance to imatinib (Gleevec) develops.
Dr. Ming Hui Chen of Harvard Medical School and her colleagues retrospectively analyzed the medical records of 75 GIST patients treated at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute during a phase I/II study. A total of 11 percent of patients had a cardiovascular event - two patients had heart attacks and six others experienced heart failure. In addition, 47 percent of patients developed hypertension - systolic and diastolic blood pressure increased during the first cycle of treatment - and 20 percent had reduced heart function. Read more