New Subtype of Cervical Cancer Discovered

By Anne Dominguez , Jan 11, 2017 10:07 AM EST

Scientists from University of South Carolina discovered a new subtype of cervical cancer. Similar to most types, it is also rooted from human papillomavirus (HPV), however, its growth is not directed to the virus itself but the tumor. It explains why some cervical cancer patients have negative responses to standard treatment.

Cervical cancer is the fourth is the for most deadly cancer in women worldwide. There are 528,000 new cases of breast cancer recorded in 2012 which resulted to 266,000 deaths. Eighty percent of which occurred in developing countries.

In 2005, the National Cancer Institute and National Human Genome Research Institute launched a large-scale project called The Cancer Genome Atlas.  Researchers analyzed the data from 255 cervical cancer patients. They discovered a subgroup of cervical cancers with very different genetic features than the common.

The results of the of the study was published online on the journal, Oncotarget, on Friday, Jan. 6. Researchers confirmed the earlier suspicion that a type of HPV-inactive cervical cancers can possibly develop from virally driven cancers. They also studied the differences between HPV-inactive and active classes of the disease.

The researchers noted that the changes and somatic mutations found in HPV-inactive tumors suggest a more effective treatment for patients. Instead of focusing on the virus with this subtype, therapies and medications must target the genetic pathways of the tumors. This would yield better outcomes than the standard treatment and can improve the survival of the patient.  

"We have discovered the existence of a subgroup of cervical cancers with very different genetic features. These women may benefit from alternative treatments that are not usually given to cervical cancer patients," lead researcher Carolyn Banister said on a press release from University of South Carolina. He added that doctors should test the HPV oncogene expression of the patients and consider personalized treatment based on their HPV activity.

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