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Cancer of the oesophagus, the pipe connecting the mouth to the stomach, is an aggressive disease, the occurrence of which is rising. Treatment involves combining chemotherapy and radiotherapy, called CRT, to shrink tumours before surgery. However, only 25% of patients respond to the CRT. Those patients that do not respond endure the side effects of treatment and have an increased time to surgery. This ultimately results in a poorer outcome than if they had gone to surgery immediately without ever having had the CRT. Therefore, it would be beneficial if we could predict who will respond and who will not. MicroRNAs, are tiny pieces of genetic material found in every cell in the body, and can even be found suspended in the blood. MicroRNAs can control how cells respond to different stimuli.
In this study we want to examine microRNAs, extracted from the patients tumour and their blood, to see if they can be used identify, or predict, which patients will respond, or not, to CRT. Any microRNAs that are found to predict patient response to CRT will be further investigated in tumour cells in the lab, examining how exactly they affect the cells response to chemotherapy drugs and radiation.
Treatment of oesophageal cancer involves combining chemotherapy and radiotherapy, called CRT, to shrink tumours before surgery. However, only 25% of patients respond to the CRT. Those patients that do not respond endure the unnecessary side effects of treatment.
This project aims to identify which patients are likely to respond to CRT treatment and which are not. By looking at a patient's miRNAs, which are tiny pieces of genetic material, this project hopes to identify predictors of patient response to CRT.
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