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UT MD Anderson study ties abnormal cells in blood to lung cancer
Date:7/22/2010

HOUSTON -- A novel approach detects genetically abnormal cells in the blood of non-small cell lung cancer patients that match abnormalities found in tumor cells and increase in number with the severity of the disease, a research team led by scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

Lung cancer patients in the study also had many times the number of these circulating abnormal cells than study volunteers in a closely matched control group.

"We suspect additional research will show that these circulating abnormal cells are circulating non-small cell lung cancer cells," said study corresponding author Ruth Katz, M.D., professor in MD Anderson's Department of Pathology. "Blood tests for these circulating tumor cells could be used to diagnose lung cancer earlier, monitor response to therapy and detect residual disease in patients after treatment."

Katz and colleagues conducted what they believe to be the first study to use a technique called fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to detect abnormal circulating cells that have aberrations found in non-small cell lung cancer. FISH detects and quantifies abnormal cells by using dye-labeled DNA probes of cell chromosomes that cause cells with the targeted genetic abnormalities to light up when viewed under a fluorescent microscope.

"We were surprised to find many more abnormal circulating cells in lung cancer patients compared with what had been seen previously using other techniques," Katz said.

The researchers used 12 biomarker probes that target aberrations previously connected to lung cancer to analyze 59 cases of non-small cell lung cancer and 24 controls, people without lung cancer, including smokers and non-smokers. Their findings include:

  • Highly significant differences in the average number of abnormal cells in the bloodstream between patients and controls. For example,
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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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