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Wistar-led research team discovers genetic pattern that indicates early-stage lung cancer
Date:12/1/2009

When 18 NSCLC patients had peripheral blood drawn before surgery and again two to five months after their tumors were surgically removed, 13 of the samples showed a decrease in or complete disappearance of the tumor gene signature present in the pre-surgery samples after tumor removal. This finding demonstrates that the tumor presence can be communicated to the peripheral immune system and this signal can be detected in the gene expression patterns in peripheral blood.

Lung cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in both men and women in the United States, accounting for 162,000 deaths in 2008, more than any other cancer. Early diagnosis followed by surgery presently is the most effective treatment for NSCLC, which accounts for 75 percent of lung tumors. Detecting cancer at its earliest stages would greatly improve the likelihood of survival; however, no simple and accurate screening test such as mammography for breast cancer or colonoscopy for colon cancer exists for lung cancer. In addition, early-stage lung cancers show few symptoms and tend to spread rapidly before they are found.

With further study, the findings may serve as the basis for developing a simpler screening test for lung cancer. "People routinely get blood taken at their doctor's offices, for cholesterol levels, diabetes, and other standard tests, so why not utilize this method to screen for other conditions such as the risk of developing lung cancer?" says Louise Showe, a professor in Wistar's Molecular and Cellular Oncology and Immunology programs and director of its genomics facility. "Such a test could be especially useful for remote areas where typically technologies that are used in urban centers are not available. In addition, this test could be useful in a clinical setting to help to decide whether a small tumor detected on an x-ray is likely to be malignant."

The team is working to develop a simpler method for collecting and processing blood samples fo
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Contact: Staci Vernick Goldberg
sgoldberg@wistar.org
215-898-3716
The Wistar Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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