A novel method is developed for predicting the stage of a cancer tissue based on the consistency level between the co-expression patterns in the given sample and samples in a specific stage. The basis for the prediction method is that cancer samples of the same stage share common functionalities as reflected by the co-expression patterns, which are distinct from samples in the other stages. Test results reveal that our prediction results are as good or potentially better than manually annotated stages by cancer pathologists. This new co-expression-based capability enables us to study how functionalities of cancer samples change as they evolve from early to the advanced stage. New and exciting results are discovered through such functional analyses, which offer new insights about what functions tend to be lost at what stage compared to the control tissues and similarly what new functions emerge as a cancer advances. To the best of our knowledge, this new capability represents the first computational method for accurately staging a cancer sample. The R source code used in this study is available at GitHub (https://github.com/yxchspring/CECS).
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