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Bowel cancer survival breakthrough

The survival chances of patients suffering from an aggressive form of bowel cancer may be improved by a breakthrough in stem cell research.

Those likely to develop a more virulent strain of the disease could be pinpointed by a test which looks for a marker protein called Lamin A, say Durham University researchers and the North East England Stem Cell Institute.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, and in its early stages patients are normally treated with surgery. But the scientists say that those with Lamin A in their tissue should be given additional chemotherapy treatment to improve their chances of recovery. A third of the patients tested had the protein in their samples and that this indicated a more serious form of the disease.

The researchers, who worked with colleagues from The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, and the Departments of Pathology and Epidemiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, now hope to develop a test for general use.

Study co-author Professor Chris Hutchison said: "Currently the hospitals use a standard test to work out how far the cancer has progressed and then they use this to determine the treatment the patient should receive."

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