Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Molecule May Help Predict Colon Cancer Survival

Survival, Disease Aggressiveness Linked to Key Protein
By
WebMD Health News

Jan. 20, 2005 -- Scientists have a new lead on colon cancer: a protein called avB6 integrin. The protein can help predict colon cancer survival and the disease's aggressiveness. It might inspire new treatments.

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer found in U.S. men and women, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). This year, there will be almost 105,000 new colon cancer cases, more than 40,000 rectal cancer cases, and more than 56,000 colorectal cancer deaths in the U.S., predicts the ACS.

Researchers are hunting for ways to get an edge against colon cancer. From a patient's perspective, routine screening is the best bet, since early detection can make a big difference. Beginning at age 50, both men and women should start routine screening for colorectal cancer.routine screening for colorectal cancer.

Cancer starts in the inner lining of the colon and can grow through some or all of the other layers.

Now, scientists have more information about how colon cancer can spread.

Integrin apparently encourages cells lining the colon to become more aggressive, allowing cells to penetrate into deeper layers, new research shows.

The scientists who studied integrin included Richard Bates of Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. Their findings appear in the online edition of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Ordinarily, cells that line the colon (and other body cavities) pretty much stay "as is." But when a wound needs healing or embryonic development is under way, the cells can change shape and function. Usually, that process goes smoothly. But if something goes wrong, healthy epithelial cells can become tumor cells.

The researchers wanted to see if integrin had anything to do with that. They measured integrin levels in 488 human colon cancer samples. Integrin turned up in 37% of the samples. Those samples happened to be the most aggressive colon cancers with the shortest survival rates.

High integrin levels cut five-year survival by 28%, compared to patients with little or no integrin. The association was most predictive in patients with early stages of the disease.

The findings suggest that the integrin could help predict patient survival. It may also become the target of new treatments for aggressive colon cancer, say the researchers.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
bladder cancer x-ray
Do you know the warning signs?
 
bread
ARTICLE
Colon vs Rectal Cancer
VIDEO
 
New Colorectal Treatments
VIDEO
can lack of sleep affect your immune system
FEATURE
 
Cancer Facts Quiz
QUIZ
Virtual Colonoscopy
VIDEO
 
Picture of the Colon
ANATOMY
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW