Genome Surveys Reveal Complexity of Brain Cancers
The most comprehensive studies to date of the molecular changes underlying brain cancer were published last week. The information significantly expands current knowledge about the genetic networks involved in this deadly disease and points to potential therapeutic strategies.
The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network analyzed 206 glioblastoma (GBM) brain tumors using an integrated approach based on multiple types of genetic data and clinical information. Reporting their findings online in Nature, the researchers identified gene mutations not previously recognized in the disease and a core set of molecular pathways that are commonly deregulated in the cancer, frequently together.
An unexpected finding that could be translated into the clinic within the next few years, the research team said, was the discovery of a potential mechanism of resistance to temozolomide, a chemotherapy drug for brain cancer.
Palliative Care Consultation Lowers Hospitalization Costs
Adding palliative care consultation to standard care for patients who have a serious illness can reduce hospitalization costs significantly, according to researchers from The Palliative Care Leadership Centers' Outcomes Group. The group's analysis appeared yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine and showed an adjusted net savings of $279 per day for palliative care patients who were discharged alive and a savings of $374 per day for patients who received palliative care consultation but died during their hospital stay. Such consultations outline a patient's treatment priorities and can help avoid unnecessary tests or treatment that might otherwise be used to prolong life at any cost.
This retrospective, nonrandomized study focused on patient records from 2002 to 2004 at eight hospitals around the United States, representing low-, medium-, and high-cost markets. All hospitals employed experienced palliative care consultation teams, and the use of palliative care and related costs were identified by billing codes. The analysis matched 2,630 palliative care patients with 18,427 usual-care patients who were discharged alive, and 2,278 palliative care patients who died in the hospital were matched with 2,124 usual-care patients who died in the hospital.
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