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December 27, 2000

New Cancer Marker

JAMA. 2000;284(24):3117. doi:10.1001/jama.284.24.3117

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have discovered a genetic marker that could aid in the early diagnosis and effective treatment of esophageal cancer, one of the most aggressive and deadly cancers.

In their analyses of tumor tissue DNA from patients with two types of esophageal cancer, the researchers found that the APC gene, involved in suppressing abnormal cell growth, was deactivated in 92% of patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma and in 50% of patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus. The deactivated APC gene also was found in tissues from 40% of patients with Barrett esophagus, a precancerous condition associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease. The altered gene was not found in normal esophageal tissues.