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2012 Gastroinstestinal Cancers Symposium Reveals New Advances Aimed At Improving Treatment, Prognosis And Detection Of GI Cancers

January 18, 2012

New research into the treatment, prognosis and early detection of gastrointestinal cancers was released today in advance of the ninth annual Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium being held January 19-21, 2012, at The Moscone West Building in San Francisco, Calif.

Four important studies were highlighted today in a live presscast:

1)Biomarkers Promising for Detecting Barrett’s Esophagus Patients at High Risk for Esophageal Cancer: Newly found biomarkers could eventually improve early detection of esophageal cancer in patients with Barrett’s esophagus (BE), a condition that significantly increases esophageal cancer risk. Using a special microscope, researchers identified three optical biomarkers in cells of the esophagus lining, which enabled them to stratify patients’ risks of progressing to cancer.

2) New Test Shows Promise for Detecting Early Stage Pancreatic Cancer: A new blood-based biomarker test correctly identified nearly two-thirds of patients with early stage pancreatic cancer, which has historically been extremely difficult to detect. When combined with another tumor marker commonly used to monitor disease progression, the new test found 85 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer.

3) Study Finds Prognostic Factors for Rare Neuroendocrine Tumors, Suggests Everolimus May Be More Beneficial Than Previously Shown: Researchers re-analyzing the results of a large phase III study of patients with advanced neuroendocrine tumors (NET) found certain factors predict which individuals are at greatest risk for neuroendocrine tumor progression and more likely to need active therapy. The re-analysis also showed that combining the drug everolimus (Afinitor) with another drug, octreotide, halted tumor growth for a longer period that previously shown, compared to octreotide alone.

4) Multi-Targeted Drug Improves Survival in Certain Patients with Metastatic Colorectal Cancer: An international phase III trial showed that single-agent treatment with the investigational drug regorafenib significantly improves survival and delays cancer progression in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer that has progressed despite other approved treatments, as compared to treatment with placebo and supportive care. Regorafenib is a novel, oral agent that targets multiple biological pathways involved in cancer development and growth.

“Research continues to focus on improving the lives of patients with gastrointestinal cancers in a number of ways, as we better understand how cancer develops and progresses, and develop new therapies and methods of early detection,” said Morton Kahlenberg, MD, who moderated the presscast. “At this conference, we will see the results of new studies showing novel approaches to earlier detection and treatment in some of our deadliest and hardest to treat cancers.”

Gastrointestinal cancers include those of the colon/rectum, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, small intestine, anus and other digestive organs. In 202, nearly 285,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with these cancers and more than 142,000 will die from them.

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