A unique sub-type ofbowel cancerhas been discovered which has a worse outcome than other types of colon cancer and is resistant to certain targeted treatments, according to research published today inNature Medicine* (Sunday).
Researchers from theCancer Research UK Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridgeand the Netherlands analysed tumours from 90 separate patients with stage II colon cancer and found that they could group the samples into three distinct sub-types.
They then developed a panel of 146 genes that could distinguish these sub-types, and confirmed their findings by analysing a further 1100 patients with the disease.
Two of these sub-types** were already known, but in more than a quarter of the patients a new kind of cancer was detected, which was previously not regarded as a separate sub-type***. These patients were more likely to do worse than those with the other types of bowel cancer. Furthermore, their tumours were more aggressive and resistant to the drugcetuximab, which can be used to treat the disease. Cetuximab targets a molecule called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), whose link to cancer was discovered by Cancer Research UK scientists in the 1980s.