February 1, 2012

New Test May Help Reduce Lung Cancer Deaths

(Ivanhoe Newswire)-- Lung cancer kills more then 150,000 Americans and 1.4 million people worldwide every year. More people die from lung cancer each year then those with breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined.

An international team led by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has shown how a new test may be able to predict the likelihood of death from early-stage lung cancer more accurately than traditional methods. Researchers hope that this may eventually help increase the survival rate in hundreds of thousands of patients each year.

"It's quite exciting," David Jablons, MD, the Ada Distinguished Professor in Thoracic Oncology and leader of the Thoracic Oncology Program at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCSF, was quoted as saying. "This has the potential to help hundreds of thousands of people every year survive longer."

The studies showed how the test, which measures the activity of fourteen genes in cancerous tissue, improves the accuracy of prognosis. This could lead to treatments for patients with the most common form of the disease, non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer.

The research included one blinded study in northern California involving the analysis of tissue samples from 433 people with early-stage lung cancer and another study involving 1,006 people with early-stage lung cancer in China. In both trials, the team demonstrated that the test could accurately predict whether the odds of death within five years of surgery to remove a lung cancer were low, intermediate, or high.

Currently, doctors assess early-stage lung cancers by their size, location, and microscopic appearance. This information, also known as staging, is then used to guide the use of additional treatment after surgery. If doctors could more accurately gauge prognosis, people who might benefit from additional therapy could receive it immediately after surgery, before any residual cancer has had a chance to grow.

The study conducted in China is the first major clinical trial result to emerge from the China Clinical Trials Consortium (CCTC), collaboration between hospitals and universities across mainland China, to confront the epidemic of lung cancer in China.

"The CCTC represents a revolutionary new collaborative approach to clinical research among Chinese and Western experts," Michael Mann, MD, Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, at UCSF, was quoted as saying. "It is fitting that this body's first major effort may support a molecular personalization of lung cancer care, and yield one of the first examples that fundamental tumor biology reaches across ethnic lines and can be used to try to improve outcomes for a large percentage of patients."

SOURCE: The Lancet, January 26, 2012