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New Test For Early-Stage Lung Cancer

Researchers at the Duke University Medical Center have developed a pioneering genomic test that can predict which early-stage lung cancer patients will need chemotherapy// and which patients can avoid it. The researchers said the test could potentially save thousands of lives by recommending chemotherapy to patients who are currently advised against it.

The test's promising results have initiated a landmark multi-center clinical trial, to be led by Duke investigators next year. Patients with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer, the most common and fatal form of cancer, will receive the genomic test and its results will determine their treatment.

The new test, called the Lung Metagene Predictor, scans thousands of genes to identify patterns of gene activity in individual tumors that indicate a patient is likely to suffer a recurrence of disease. Recurrent tumors are typically fatal, so identifying at-risk patients is critical to properly treating them, said the Duke researchers.

"Using the unique genomic signatures from each tumor, our new test predicted with up to 90 percent accuracy which early-stage lung cancer patients would suffer a recurrence of their cancer and which patients would not," said Anil Potti, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine and lead author of the study. "We now have a tool that can be used to move these high-risk patients from the 'no chemotherapy' group into the aggressive treatment group."

The researchers will publish their findings in the Aug. 10, 2006, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Metagene results showing recurrence risk for lung cancer patient. The genomic test can theoretically apply to any cancer, but the Duke team focused its effort on lung cancer because the survival rate is just 15 percent. Lung cancer now kills more Americans each year than breast, prostate and colorectal cancers combined.
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