Molecular pathology of familial gastric cancer

Dr. David Huntsman is one of a growing number of health researchers who are equally interested in answering research questions and translating their findings into better clinical care. As a clinician scientist, Dr. Huntsman identifies and studies susceptibility genes for cancer – specific genes that increase a person’s risk for getting a certain type of cancer. Previously, he and his research team detected mutations in a gene called E-cadherin in one-third of families with extreme histories of early onset stomach cancer. This information was used as the basis for offering prophylactic stomach removal for at-risk individuals with one of these mutations. In all 11 individuals who elected to have their stomach removed, Dr. Huntsman’s team discovered tiny, early cancers, undetectable by current diagnostics. Dr. Huntsman is now working to identify new susceptibility genes for stomach cancer so more at-risk families can be medically managed. He is also studying the role of another gene, EMSY, in breast, ovarian and other cancers. His findings may lead to clinical advances in the diagnosis and treatment for many types of inherited cancer.