A study of 22 patients with advanced cancer found that 80% of those with one genetic variation responded to the drug.
No more than 14% of those patients without the variation benefited from treatment.
The findings were reported to the conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in San Francisco, California, USA, by researchers from the University of Southern California, USA.
The research team found critical differences in the genes that produce the enzyme thymidylate sulphate, the enzyme disabled by capecitabine.
Researcher Dr Heinz-Josef Lenz said, "Although further studies are needed, these data indicate that identifying patients with specific genetic characteristics may dramatically improve treatment outcomes for some people with advanced colon cancer."
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