In the area of lung cancer treatment, researchers have taken an important step. They use blood tests to track genetic changes in tumors as they progress through the stages. They have developed a blood test that spots the return of lung cancer in patients, up to a year before the disease can be detected by CT scans. The TRACERx study, funded by Cancer Research UK, has identified the cause of lung cancer return.
TRACERx lung cancer study looks at the evolution of cancer in real-time. The lead researcher Charles Swanton said in a Cancer Research UK news release, “The TRACERx study is Cancer Research UK’s single biggest investment in lung cancer, and for the first time we’ve revealed new insights into how tumours evolve and evade treatment, a leading cause of cancer death. We believe that this invaluable data generated during TRACERx will be seized upon by research teams across the world, helping us to answer more questions about lung cancer biology. We’ve only scraped the surface in terms of what is possible by looking at tumour evolution in such detail.”
In this study on 100 patients, the scientists discovered unstable chromosomes in lung tumors as the reasons for return of cancer after the surgery. According to the study, those having high proportion of unstable chromosomes were more than four times likely to experience a return of cancer or die within two years.
Scientists analyzed the blood samples of 24 patients who had undergone surgery and were able to identify over 90% of cancer cases likely to return. This is up to a year before other clinical methods like X-Rays or CT Scans could identify the disease. Scientists also compared levels of tumors DNA in blood before and after post-surgery. They found that cancer returned when levels of tumor DNA in blood were not reduced after the treatment.
These new findings pave a way for development of new drugs targeting lung cancer tumors.
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