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:

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.
Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.
More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.
New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.
American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.
Oncotarget: Cancer pioneer employs physics to approach cancer in last research article
In the cover article of Tuesday's issue of Oncotarget, James Frost, MD, PhD, Kenneth Pienta, MD, and the late Donald Coffey, Ph.D., use a theory of physical and biophysical symmetry to derive a new conceptualization of cancer.
Health indicators for newborns of breast cancer survivors may vary by cancer type
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center analyzed health indicators for children born to young breast cancer survivors in North Carolina.
Few women with history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer take a recommended genetic test
More than 80 percent of women living with a history of breast or ovarian cancer at high-risk of having a gene mutation have never taken the test that can detect it.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.