In patients diagnosed with cancer, the most common is that it detects the original or primary tumor and the presence or absence of metastases, i.e. tumor cells that have escaped from their original place of birth and grow in another tissue of the patient. However, between 5% and 10% of human tumors are otherwise: metastasis is diagnosed, but the primary tumor is not detected while performing various diagnostic tests. This is called cancer of unknown origin (COD) or the abbreviation, CUP (Cancer of Unknown Primary). Because no one knows what kind of tumor it is, survival of these patients is very limited.
Today, an article published in The Lancet Oncology , the most prestigious in the area of Medical Oncology, by Dr. Manel Esteller, director of the Program of Epigenetics and Cancer Biology (PEBC) of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and ICREA Research Professor of Genetics at the University of Barcelona, shows that it is possible to use a epigenetic test (called EPICUP®) to discover from what type of primary tumor metastasis has occurred in the patient, allowing developing more specific treatments.
" For the last few years, we began to realize that chemical patterns that regulate gene activity, the epigenome are specific to each tissue. For example, in a cell are different compared to the pancreas cell lung , "said Dr. Manel Esteller. " We analyzed these epigenetic signatures for each particular type of cancer in more than 10,000 human tumors. When now studying the DNA of a patient with metastatic tumor of unknown origin, with a photograph of your epigenome we get we say belonging to the family of pancreatic cancer, lung, colon, breast, etc. that is, give a diagnosis of the origin of this tumor " .
The identification of cancer through epigenetic test will have a significant impact on the choice of treatment. " Now, this patient will be treated blindly, they can receive a more specific therapy for their tumor type, initial data show that survival is doubled ," explains Dr. Esteller and concludes on research in The Lancet Oncology : " A very important thing to consider is that this is not a discovery to be developed in the coming years, but we have succeeded in the test can be applied from today thanks to the collaboration with laboratories Ferrer . "