New blood test can predict throat cancer recurrence

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New York, Dec 16 (IANS) Researchers have identified that a blood serum test for two specific antibodies of human papillomavirus may act as a potential biomarker to predict the relapse of a type of throat cancer.

Oropharyngeal cancer -- which occurs in the throat, tonsils and back of the tongue -- is frequently linked to the human papilloma virus -- an infection that causes warts in various parts of the body.

Although HPV-related cancers are generally more responsive to treatment, for nearly 15 to 20 per cent of patients, the treatment won't work and their cancer is likely to relapse.

The study found that the patients whose HPV-fueled oropharyngeal cancer recurred had higher levels of antibodies for two proteins -- E6 and E7.

The presence of these antibodies in blood serum can be a reliable indicator of five-year head and neck cancer survival, the researchers said.

"If we can monitor someone through blood markers, then instead of a patient coming for a clinic visit every two to three months, they could get blood drawn near home. If there's evidence of high E7, we can tell the patient to come in for more evaluation," said Matthew E. Spector, Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan in the US.

For the study, the team examined blood serum samples of 52 patients with advanced oropharyngeal cancer, of which 22 developed recurrence and 30 did not. 

The analysis revealed that recurrent patients had significantly higher E6 and E7 serum antibody levels than the non-recurrent patients over the follow-up period.

Patients who recurred had a lower clearance of E7 antibody than patients who remained disease free.

The study was published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

Author: Super User
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