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Scientists make bowel cancer breakthrough

Scientists make bowel cancer breakthrough

Four different types of bowel cancer have been discovered by researchers, with hopes this could lead to a breakthrough in treating the condition. As each of the diseases has a different set of characteristics it's thought that using different drugs on each could be the key to beating them.

Bowel cancer affects the colon and the rectum and is also known as colorectal cancer. Researchers looked at data from 3,443 patients from all over the world, taking into consideration things like genetic mutations and cell metabolism, and found that 87 per cent of the cancers could be contained in one of four groups - known as consensus molecular subtypes (CMS). For example, those in CMS2 had very strong chances of beating the disease even if it ended up returning. However, those in CMS4 tended to be diagnosed late and be more likely to have their cancer spread.

"Our study has identified four distinct types of bowel cancer, each with a definite set of genetic and biological characteristics, and some of which are more aggressive and more likely to be fatal than others," the Institute of Cancer Research in London's Dr Anguraj Sadanandam explained.

"This could allow doctors to pick out those patients with more aggressive disease and treat them accordingly. Ultimately, it could lead to development of new molecular diagnostic tests to diagnose patients by their particular type of bowel cancer, and give them the most effective treatments for that type."

Professor Paul Workman is chief executive at the institute and explained the last 10 years have been pivotal for cancer research. It was during this time that scientists began to realise that different types of tumours can be made of multiple diseases. He hopes that this latest research, which is published in the Natural Medicine journal, will allow scientists to uncover more about how each cancer behaves and target therapy with that in mind.

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