26 July 2022

Updated diagnosis

Scientists have found a way to make cancer diagnosis more accurate

Ekaterina Serebryakova, "Science in Siberia"

In the initial detection of malignant tumors by biopsy, subjectivity is present. "The quality of the analysis strongly depends on the qualification of a specialist," notes Sergey Evgenievich Titov, a senior researcher at the IMKB SB RAS, Candidate of Biological Sciences. — Because during the subsequent examination of cells under a microscope, it is the cytologist who determines what kind of tumor a person has - benign or malignant."

In collaboration with medical and scientific institutions in Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Krasnodar and Chelyabinsk, researchers are studying a certain set of molecular markers and the possibility of their use for the detection of several types of cancer: thyroid, cervix, stomach and lymphomas. The new method involves analyzing the expression levels of microRNAs and protein-coding genes, identifying somatic mutations and translocations, and analyzing methylation. In the course of their work, specialists determine the diagnostic characteristics of molecular tests and verify the data obtained on independent samples of patients.

To diagnose thyroid cancer in the case of an uncertain cytology, it is necessary to perform an operation and remove the portion of the gland with a node. This allows you to examine the node for the presence of invasion and determine whether it is benign or malignant. "It is possible to reduce the number of unnecessary operations only with the help of molecular research," Sergey Titov emphasizes. According to the scientist, such a method of detecting the disease can already be introduced into clinical practice.

For cervical cancer, molecular testing is also carried out, the purpose of which is to complement the cytological analysis during screening. Scientists of the IMKB SB RAS are considering several options for determining this type of oncopathology: using individual markers, pairs of markers and a combination of paired markers. 

The most important diagnostic characteristic for a molecular test is the predictive value of a positive result, in other words, the accuracy of detecting cancer cells in a sample. As a result of comparing different molecular tests during screening, it turned out that the detection of human papillomavirus of high carcinogenic risk has the least predictive value of a positive result. A more effective diagnostic approach proposed by the scientists of the IMKB SB RAS is the use of a combination of markers, including analysis of the expression levels of microRNA and protein-coding genes. Work in this direction continues.

The study of molecular markers in the diagnosis of gastric and lymphoma cancer is still at the initial stage of development.

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