The occurrence of oncologic diseases in the Czech Republic is steadily rising, in part due to an aging population and unhealthy lifestyle. For many of the diseases, treatment options are still very limited, and the long-term prognosis is not good.
Examples of such diseases are hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and other malignant tumors of the digestive tract. Ninety percent of HCC occurs in patients with hepatic cirrhosis, which in the Czech Republic is most frequently associated with chronic hepatitis B and C, alcoholic liver disease, and fatty liver disease arising from obesity and diabetes. The risk of cancer increases as liver disease progresses, and each year eight percent of patients with cirrhosis are diagnosed with HCC. Currently, hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common reason for liver transplantation.
The basis for successful cancer treatment is early diagnosis, achieved by means of an ultrasound examination in regular six-month intervals. Nonetheless, in approximately one third of regularly monitored patients, tumors are not detected in time. Unfortunately, no reliable blood markers or genetic tests yet exist to help uncover the risk of cancer.
What we’re working on
The goal of the collaboration between IKEM, IOCB, and IPHYS is the discovery of serum and genetic markers enabling early identification of patients at high risk for hepatocellular carcinoma, who could then be monitored at shorter intervals. This would lead to earlier detection of tumors and make radical therapy possible.
Pancreatic cancer and bile duct cancer
While significant advances have been made in the early diagnosis of colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and bile duct cancer present a fundamental problem from the standpoint of diagnostics, treatment, and long-term prognosis.
The Hepatogastroenterology Department at IKEM is a colorectal cancer screening center. In the department’s endoscopic unit, patients with pancreatic cancer and bile duct cancer are diagnosed and undergo endoscopic treatment of complications stemming from these serious diseases. The Transplantation and Vascular Surgery Department at IKEM provides these patients with the full spectrum of surgical procedures. At present, studies are being conducted here focusing on genetic markers predicting chemotherapy responses in advanced colon and rectal cancer as well as on those predicting resistance to chemotherapy.
What we’re working on
The goal of the collaboration between IKEM, IOCB, and IPHYS is further research in this area that will make it possible to improve early diagnosis of these diseases and provide patients with tailored treatment.