Gene Expression Can Identify At-Risk Lung Cancer Patients

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Lung CancerA new study published in the journal EBioMedicine that differentiates tumor type by gene expression may explain why spotting tumors in the early stages doesn’t necessarily impact patient survival.

A team of researchers from Oxford University in the U.K. and the National Cancer Institute in Milan, Italy set out to look at genetic differences in tumors to try to explain why, despite early detection, some patients survived while others did not.

In an effort to spot developing lung cancer in its early stages, the Italian research team screened more than 5,000 smokers with a computed tomography (CT), an imaging device that uses x-rays to generate three-dimensional pictures of the inside of the body.

The x-ray was able to detect tumors at the early stages, but it still did not link early detection with survival.

Wondering if the screening process was only finding slow-growing or “lazy” tumors, which could be surgically removed, researchers sampled tumors from 52 patients and compared the gene expression signatures with clinical information, such as year of detection, stage of tumor, and patient survival.

Researchers discovered 239 genes whose expression was associated with patient survival.

The gene signature separated the patients into two groups that predicted disease-free survival as well as divided the sluggish tumors that were detected from tumors that were found during the screening process. Remarkably, researchers could spot the differences in gene signatures through blood tests.

The findings confirm that there is a distinct difference in gene expression between slow-growing tumors and aggressive tumors, and these differences can be detected to identify at-risk patients.

According to researchers, the next step is finding shorter gene signatures, which will enable them to better target lung cancer treatment.

Source for Today’s Article:
Paddock, C., “Gene signature spots aggressive lung tumors,” Medical News Today web site, July 15, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/296773.php.

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