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This Week in BMC Cancer: Oct 10, 2011

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In BMC Cancer this week, researchers in the Netherlands explore the advantages and disadvantages of routine staging with abdominal CT before treatment of colorectal cancer. The team conducted a retrospective study of 612 colorectal cancer patients to test the ability of abdominal CT to find liver metastases, peritoneal carcinomatosis, and T4 stage of locally advanced colorectal cancer. The CT's ability to detect liver metastasis was 99 percent, the team found, and its ability to detect T4 stage of locally advanced cancer was 86 percent. However, the technology's ability to detect peritoneal carcinomatosis was only 33 percent. "The strengths of staging with abdominal CT are to find liver metastases and locally advanced colorectal cancer, however it fails in diagnosing peritoneal carcinomatosis," the authors write. "On grounds of the incidence of advanced colorectal cancer, staging is warranted as well in patients with emergency presentations."

Also in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Sweden and the UK present findings from a study of the influence of serum selenium levels and smoking habits on long-term prostate cancer risk. The team analyzed data from a population of 2,322 50-year-old Swedish men to determine serum selenium levels and selenium influencing factors like serum cholesterol and smoking habits. In a 34-year follow-up, the team found that men with serum selenium in the upper tertile had a non-significantly lower risk of prostate cancer, and that smokers with serum selenium in the lower two tertiles experiences a higher cumulative incidence of prostate cancer than smokers with high selenium levels.

And finally in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Germany report a novel splice variant of the stem cell marker LGR5/GPR49, which they write is correlated with the risk of tumor-related death in patients with soft-tissue sarcomas. LGR5/GPR49 is a marker of stem cells in adult intestinal epithelium, stomach and hair follicles, and is over-expressed in colon, ovary, and liver tumors, the authors write. The team analyzed 77 frozen tumor samples from soft-tissue sarcoma patients to find mRNA levels of the wild-type LGR5/GPR49 and a splice variant called GPR49Delta5. They found that a low mRNA expression level of the variant, but not the wild type, was significantly correlated with a poor prognosis for the disease-associated survival of soft-tissue sarcoma patients, as well as with a shorter recurrence-free survival time. Lower mRNA level of the GPR49Delta5 variant was, however, also associated with a later age of tumor onset. "A putative role of GPR49Delta5 expression in tumorigenesis and tumor progression of soft tissue sarcomas is suggested," the authors write.

The Scan

Dropped Charges

The US Justice Department has dropped visa fraud charges against five Chinese researchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More Kids

The Associated Press says Moderna is expanding its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine study to included additional children and may include even younger children.

PNAS Papers on Rat Clues to Human Migration, Thyroid Cancer, PolyG-DS

In PNAS this week: ancient rat genome analysis gives hints to human migrations, WDR77 gene mutations in thyroid cancer, and more.

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.