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Will Cancer Spread? New Test May Tell

Errant Protein Marks Tumors That Metastasize

Predicting Cancer Spread continued...

"Absolutely this test would be useful. Prediction of metastases is virtually impossible for most tumor types," Xu tells WebMD. "You don't know when metastasis starts. It can take decades. So if you had this kind of marker, you could know early on and do preventive clinical work to stop that from happening."

The finding that CPE-deltaN is crucial to cancer spread has another implication. If the protein or the broken gene that makes it could be neutralized, cancers might not spread. Indeed, when lab animals were implanted with tumors in which CPE-deltaN RNA had been blocked, the tumors did not spread.

Loh and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health and the University of Hong Kong report their findings in the Feb. 1 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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