Blood test shows potential for early detection of lung cancer

June 02, 2018

CHICAGO - A test that analyzes free-floating DNA in the blood may be able to detect early-stage lung cancer, a preliminary report from the ongoing Circulating Cell-Free Genome Atlas (CCGA) study suggests.

The findings, from one of the first studies to explore whether sequencing blood-borne DNA is a feasible approach to the early cancer detection, will be featured in a press briefing today and presented at the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.

"We're excited that the initial results from the CCGA study show it is possible to detect early-stage lung cancer from blood samples using genome sequencing," said lead study author Geoffrey R. Oxnard, MD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "There is an unmet need globally for early-detection tests for lung cancer that can be easily implemented by health-care systems. These are promising early results and the next steps are to further optimize the assays and validate the results in a larger group of people."

Early diagnosis is key to improving survival rates for lung cancer. A blood test that could be done through a simple blood draw at the doctor's office could potentially have a major impact on survival, but before such a test could be widely used, additional validation in larger data sets and in studies involving people who have not been diagnosed with cancer would be needed, researchers say.

Tests that analyze cell-free DNA in blood, known as "liquid biopsies," are already used to help choose targeted therapies for people already diagnosed with lung cancer. Until recently, there has been limited evidence to indicate that cell-free DNA analysis may be feasible for early detection of the disease.

The CCGA study has enrolled more than 12,000 of the planned 15,000 participants (70 percent with cancer, 30 percent without cancer) across 141 sites in the United States and Canada.

The new report is from the first sub-study from the CCGA, in which three prototype sequencing assays were performed on blood samples from approximately 1,700 participants. Twenty different cancer types of all stages were included in the sub-study (additional early results from the sub-study, including breast, gastrointestinal, gynecologic, blood and other cancers will be presented separately at the 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting).

In this initial analysis, researchers explored the ability of the three assays to detect cancer in 127 people with stage I-IV lung cancer. The assays were designed to detect cancer-defining signals (mutations and other genomic changes) that could be used in an early cancer detection test:

The initial results showed that all three assays could detect lung cancer with a low rate of false positives (in which a test indicates a person has cancer when there is no cancer). Of the 580 samples from people without cancer at the time of enrollment in the sub-study, five (less than 1 percent) had a cancer-like signal across all three assays. Of those five participants, two were subsequently diagnosed with cancer (one with stage III ovarian cancer and one with stage II endometrial cancer) - highlighting the potential for such tests to identify early-stage cancers.

Among participants with lung cancer, the study found that more than 54 percent of the somatic (non-inherited) mutations detected in blood samples were derived from white blood cells and not from tumors. These mutations are likely the result of natural aging processes (so-called clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential, or CHIP) and will need to be taken into account when developing blood tests for early detection of blood cancers, noted Oxnard.

The researchers are verifying these results in an independent group of approximately 1,000 participants from CCGA as part of the same sub-study. Following this, they will continue to optimize the assays, then validate them in an even larger data set from CCGA. With increased sample sizes, machine learning approaches are expected to improve assay performance, Oxnard noted.
-end-
This study was funded by GRAIL, Inc.

About Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

From achieving the first remissions in childhood cancer with chemotherapy in 1948, to developing the very latest new therapies, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is one of the world's leading centers of cancer research and treatment. It is the only center ranked in the top 4 of U.S. News and World Report's Best Hospitals for both adult and pediatric cancer care.

Dana-Farber sits at the center of a wide range of collaborative efforts to reduce the burden of cancer through scientific inquiry, clinical care, education, community engagement, and advocacy. Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center provides the latest in cancer care for adults; Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center for children. The Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center unites the cancer research efforts of five Harvard academic medical centers and two graduate schools, while Dana-Farber Community Cancer Care provides high quality cancer treatment in communities outside Boston's Longwood Medical Area.

Dana-Farber is dedicated to a unique 50/50 balance between cancer research and care, and much of the Institute's work is dedicated to translating the results of its discovery into new treatments for patients in Boston, and around the world.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Related Lung Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

State-level lung cancer screening rates not aligned with lung cancer burden in the US
A new study reports that state-level lung cancer screening rates were not aligned with lung cancer burden.

The lung microbiome may affect lung cancer pathogenesis and prognosis
Enrichment of the lungs with oral commensal microbes was associated with advanced stage disease, worse prognosis, and tumor progression in patients with lung cancer, according to results from a study published in Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

New analysis finds lung cancer screening reduces rates of lung cancer-specific death
Low-dose CT screening methods may prevent one death per 250 at-risk adults screened, according to a meta-analysis of eight randomized controlled clinical trials of lung cancer screening.

'Social smokers' face disproportionate risk of death from lung disease and lung cancer
'Social smokers' are more than twice as likely to die of lung disease and more than eight times as likely to die of lung cancer than non-smokers, according to research presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress.

Lung cancer therapy may improve outcomes of metastatic brain cancer
A medication commonly used to treat non-small cell lung cancer that has spread, or metastasized, may have benefits for patients with metastatic brain cancers, suggests a new review and analysis led by researchers at St.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Lung transplant patients face elevated lung cancer risk
In an American Journal of Transplantation study, lung cancer risk was increased after lung transplantation, especially in the native (non-transplanted) lung of single lung transplant recipients.

Proposed cancer treatment may boost lung cancer stem cells, study warns
Epigenetic therapies -- targeting enzymes that alter what genes are turned on or off in a cell -- are of growing interest in the cancer field as a way of making a cancer less aggressive or less malignant.

Are you at risk for lung cancer?
This question isn't only for people who've smoked a lot.

Read More: Lung Cancer News and Lung Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.