Stomach or gastric cancer is particularly prevalent in Asia and represents the second leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. The disease is resistant to chemotherapy and newer biologic-based therapies have not proven very effective.
Now, an international team has come up with a new way to classify stomach cancers -- in fact, it classifies gastric cancers by the signalling pathways the tumours use to grow and spread, as opposed to the more traditional approach.
The research, published in the 'PLoS Genetics' journal, are based upon clinical findings from patients in Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom and represents the largest genomic analysis of gastric cancers to date.
"We identified three oncogenic pathways that were activated in over 70 per cent of the gastric tumours we examined. We also found that combinations of these pathways are significantly related to patient survival," team leader Chia Huey Ooi of DukeNational University of Singapore said.
According to the scientists, the new classification system offers physicians the opportunity to stratify patients according to their tumours' pathway profiles and then apply the treatment designed to interrupt signals the pathways use.
"These findings may give us the first way to truly offer our gastric cancer patients personalised medicine," said team member Patrick Tan.