Nav: Home

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:
  • Targeted sequencing to detect non-inherited (somatic) mutations, such as single nucleotide variants and small insertions and/or deletions;
  • Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) to detect somatic gene copy number changes;
  • Whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) of cell-free DNA to detect epigenetic changes.
  • At 98 percent specificity, the WGBS assay detected 41 percent of early-stage (stage I-IIIA) lung cancers and 89 percent of late-stage (stage IIIB-IV) lung cancers. The WGS assay was similarly effective, detecting 38 percent of early-stage cancers and 87 percent of late-stage cancers,
  • whereas the targeted assay detected 51 percent of early-stage cancers and 89 percent of late-stage cancers.


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:

AI helps to fight against lung cancer
Lung cancer has been the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in 2015 in United States.
Free lung-cancer screening in the Augusta area finds more than double the cancer rate of previous screenings
The first year of free lung cancer screening in the Augusta, Ga., area found more than double the rate seen in a previous large, national study as well as a Massachusetts-based screening for this No.
Antioxidants and lung cancer risk
An epidemiological study published in Frontiers in Oncology suggests that a diet high in carotenoids and vitamin C may protect against lung cancer.
Lung cancer may go undetected in kidney cancer patients
Could lung cancer be hiding in kidney cancer patients? Researchers with the Harold C.
Hitgen and Cancer Research UK's Manchester Institute enter license agreement in lung cancer
Cancer Research UK, Cancer Research Technology (CRT), the charity's commercial arm, and HitGen Ltd, a privately held biotech company focused on early drug discovery, announced today that they have entered into a licence agreement to develop a novel class of drugs against lung cancer.
Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
Huntsman Cancer Institute research holds promise for personalized lung cancer treatments
New research from scientists at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah uncovered distinct types of tumors within small cell lung cancer that look and act differently from one another.
High levels of estrogen in lung tissue related to lung cancer in postmenopausal women
Researchers from Kumamoto University, Japan have found that postmenopausal women with multicentric adenocarcinoma of the lung have a higher concentration of estrogen in non-cancerous areas of the peripheral lung than similar women diagnosed with single tumor lung cancer.
Radiotherapy for lung cancer patients is linked to increased risk of non-cancer deaths
Researchers have found that treating patients who have early stage non-small cell lung cancer with a type of radiotherapy called stereotactic body radiation therapy is associated with a small but increased risk of death from causes other than cancer.
Pericardial window operation less efficient in cases of lung cancer than any other cancer
Pericardial window operation, a procedure, where abnormal quantity of malignant fluid, surrounding the heart, is drained into the neighbouring chest cavity, is commonly applied to patients diagnosed with cancer.

Related Lung Cancer Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Setbacks
Failure can feel lonely and final. But can we learn from failure, even reframe it, to feel more like a temporary setback? This hour, TED speakers on changing a crushing defeat into a stepping stone. Guests include entrepreneur Leticia Gasca, psychology professor Alison Ledgerwood, astronomer Phil Plait, former professional athlete Charly Haversat, and UPS training manager Jon Bowers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".