Nav: Home

Cancer patients' genes may influence how they experience fatigue and quality of life

June 05, 2004

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Is there a relationship between a cancer patient's genetic makeup and quality of life?

A team of American and Canadian cancer researchers, led by Jeff Sloan, Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., think so. They've found preliminary evidence that suggests a cancer patient's genetic makeup influences how the patient experiences fatigue, one of the most common side effects of cancer.

Dr. Sloan will report their findings during a plenary presentation at the 40th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), June 7, in New Orleans. The study involved 494 cancer patients, and is believed to be the first finding of a possible link between genetics and a cancer patient's quality of life.

"Genetic variants are now used to determine how cancer patients physically respond to treatment and the types of outcomes they will have," says Dr. Sloan. "We thought the possibility of linkages also existing between genetics and the way a cancer patient experiences quality of life was a plausible theory."

According to Dr. Sloan, "We know that cancer patients who have good quality of life and do not feel tired all the time or stressed out tend to cope better with the burden of having cancer.

"The ultimate goal would be to use information about a cancer patient's genetic makeup to tailor individualized treatments for quality of life in the same manner as individualized treatments for the tumor itself," he says.

"Being able to identify cancer patients who have a predisposition to fatigue or other quality of life problems can mean earlier and better uses of resources so treatment and support services can be provided to help them have the best quality of life to cope with their disease."

The study was part of an international phase 3 clinical study, N9741, coordinated by the North Central Cancer Treatment Group (NCCTG) to test a new combination of chemotherapy drugs for treatment of colorectal cancer. All 494 patients in the study had previously been diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer.

Before beginning chemotherapy, the patients donated their DNA through blood samples. They also completed questionnaires about their quality of life, which provided baseline information about their level of distress with having cancer.

The DNA samples allowed researchers to isolate three folate genes -- DPYD, MTHFR and TYMS -- that indicate the health of a person's cells and risk for disease. The researchers found that patients with two variant forms of the DPYD gene were significantly less likely to say they were fatigued than patients who had the gene. The researchers also learned that patients who had a marker called TSER near the TYMS gene were more likely to report distress and fatigue than patients without the marker. (The researchers found no relationship between folate gene MTHFR and fatigue.)

"These findings indicate that a relationship between genetic makeup and how a cancer patient experiences fatigue seems to exist," says Dr. Sloan. "We arrived at these findings through a very cautious and skeptical approach because we realize this is novel research.

"At this point, we do not want to draw conclusions, but rather offer our findings to encourage more research for greater understanding and for helping patients have the best quality of life possible to most effectively cope with cancer," he says.
-end-
DISCLOSURE: The National Cancer Institute funded clinical study N9741 of which this study was a part. In addition to Dr. Sloan, the research team included Daniel Sargent, Ph.D., and X. Zhao, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.; Howard McLeod, Ph.D., Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; C. Fuchs, Ph.D., Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston; R. Ramanathan, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh; S. Williamson, M.D., University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City; B. Findlay, M.D., National Cancer Institute of Canada in St. Catherine's Ontario; R. Morton, M.D., Iowa Oncology Research Associates CCOP in Des Moines; R. Goldberg, M.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The NCCTG is a network of more than 400 community-based cancer treatment clinics in the United States and Canada that work with Mayo Clinic to conduct clinical studies for advancing cancer treatment.

To obtain the latest news releases from Mayo Clinic, go to www.mayoclinic.org/news. MayoClinic.com (www.mayoclinic.com) is available as a resource for your health stories.

Additional Contact information for Mary Lawson: 507-261-5716 (cell, June 3-8)
507-284-5005 (days)
507-284-2511 (evenings)


EMBARGOED: Hold for release until after media presentation at American Society of Clinical Oncology 2004 Annual Meeting, Saturday, June 5, 2004, Noon CDT, Abstract #5.

Mayo Clinic

Related Cancer Articles:

Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
Cancer genomics continued: Triple negative breast cancer and cancer immunotherapy
Continuing PLOS Medicine's special issue on cancer genomics, Christos Hatzis of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., USA and colleagues describe a new subtype of triple negative breast cancer that may be more amenable to treatment than other cases of this difficult-to-treat disease.
Metabolite that promotes cancer cell transformation and colorectal cancer spread identified
Osaka University researchers revealed that the metabolite D-2-hydroxyglurate (D-2HG) promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition of colorectal cancer cells, leading them to develop features of lower adherence to neighboring cells, increased invasiveness, and greater likelihood of metastatic spread.
UH Cancer Center researcher finds new driver of an aggressive form of brain cancer
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age.
UH Cancer Center researchers develop algorithm to find precise cancer treatments
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers developed a computational algorithm to analyze 'Big Data' obtained from tumor samples to better understand and treat cancer.
New analytical technology to quantify anti-cancer drugs inside cancer cells
University of Oklahoma researchers will apply a new analytical technology that could ultimately provide a powerful tool for improved treatment of cancer patients in Oklahoma and beyond.
Radiotherapy for lung cancer patients is linked to increased risk of non-cancer deaths
Researchers have found that treating patients who have early stage non-small cell lung cancer with a type of radiotherapy called stereotactic body radiation therapy is associated with a small but increased risk of death from causes other than cancer.
Cancer expert says public health and prevention measures are key to defeating cancer
Is investment in research to develop new treatments the best approach to controlling cancer?
UI Cancer Center, Governors State to address cancer disparities in south suburbs
The University of Illinois Cancer Center and Governors State University have received a joint four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to help both institutions conduct community-based research to reduce cancer-related health disparities in Chicago's south suburbs.
Leading cancer research organizations to host international cancer immunotherapy conference
The Cancer Research Institute, the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy, the European Academy of Tumor Immunology, and the American Association for Cancer Research will join forces to sponsor the first International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York, Sept.

Related Cancer Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Moving Forward
When the life you've built slips out of your grasp, you're often told it's best to move on. But is that true? Instead of forgetting the past, TED speakers describe how we can move forward with it. Guests include writers Nora McInerny and Suleika Jaouad, and human rights advocate Lindy Lou Isonhood.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...