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Lab tests for liver cancer patients could lengthen life

Category: Liver Diseases

Analysis of a short strand of RNA in patients with liver cancer may help doctors identify those who could be treated with a certain regimen of drug therapy, researchers say.

A study, which appears in the October 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, found that of 241 liver cancer patients, individuals with low levels of a strand of microRNA called miR-26 lived an average of four years less than patients with her levels of the genetic structure.

A separate analysis found that a drug treatment known as adjuvant interferon therapy allowed the patients with low miR-26 levels to live an average of 7.7 years longer than those who did not receive the remedy. Meanwhile, interferon did not benefit patients with normal miR-26 levels.

"Our findings are exciting because we are rediscovering a drug that may have great potential for patients with a particular genomic profile," said the study's senior author Xin Wei Wang.

By performing lab tests to analyze miR-26 levels in patients with liver cancer, doctors may be able to more accurately and effectively identify a prognosis and feasible treatment.

According to the American Cancer Society, the average age of diagnosis for liver cancer is 64, and more than 90 percent of diagnoses are made in individuals over the age of 45.

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