Microarray gene-expression data of 54 paired gastric cancer and adjacent noncancerous gastric tissues were analyzed, with the aim to establish gene signatures for cancer grades (well-, moderately-, poorly- or un-differentiated) and stages (I, II, III and IV), which have been determined by pathologists. Our statistical analysis led to the identification of a number of gene combinations whose expression patterns serve well as signatures of different grades and different stages of gastric cancer. A 19-gene signature was found to have discerning power between high- and low-grade gastric cancers in general, with overall classification accuracy at 79.6%. An expanded 198-gene panel allows the stratification of cancers into four grades and control, giving rise to an overall classification agreement of 74.2% between each grade designated by the pathologists and our prediction. Two signatures for cancer staging, consisting of 10 genes and 9 genes, respectively, provide high classification accuracies at 90.0% and 84.0%, among early-, advanced-stage cancer and control. Functional and pathway analyses on these signature genes reveal the significant relevance of the derived signatures to cancer grades and progression. To the best of our knowledge, this represents the first study on identification of genes whose expression patterns can serve as markers for cancer grades and stages.
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