October 31, 2005

Cheek cells’ DNA points to lung cancer risk

By Martha Kerr

MONTREAL (Reuters Health) - Canadian investigators reported
here Monday that they have identified DNA changes in cells
taken from the inside of the cheek that are associated with a
risk for stage I lung cancer.

Dr. Bojana Turic said that her team's focus has been on
detecting stage I lung cancer because that stage is considered
treatable. Most lung cancers are detected at later stages.

Turic and her colleagues at Perceptronix, Inc., in
Vancouver, Canada, collected cheek cell specimens from 354
high-risk patients and 203 patients with confirmed lung cancer,
62 of which were stage I.

Automated analysis identified DNA changes that are linked
to lung cancer risk. The test detected 72 percent of lung
cancer cases, although it also produced a similar number of
false-positive results, Turic reported.

"Currently, an integrated approach is necessary to detect
lung cancer in its early stage. No one test will solve the
screening problem," Turic commented in an interview with
Reuters Health.

"We believe that a combination of two or more tests will
provide a better patient management approach. For example, a
positive CT scan and a positive (automated cell analysis) test
may (identify) higher risk patients, and they should be
followed more closely and more often."

The team has already developed a sputum test for lung
cancer using their analysis method. They are hoping for
Canadian regulatory approval in early 2006.