Worldwide, lung cancer is the primary cause of cancer-related deaths. The majority of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, which reduces the 5-year survival rate. At the moment, low-dose CT is the only screening option available for lung cancer, and it has certain drawbacks. According to a cancer genomics company, a blood test for early-stage lung cancer detection has been developed. Globally, lung cancer is the primary cause of cancer-related mortality. Lung cancer was the cause of approximately 2 million diagnoses and 1 in 8 deaths in 2020. The type of cancer, the time of diagnosis, and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body all affect a person’s 5-year survival rate for lung cancer. Early-stage lung cancer is more curable. Previous studies have demonstrated that because many people do not exhibit clear symptoms at an early stage, the majority of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage. Currently, low-dose computed tomography (CT) scanning is the only method of screening for lung cancer. CT scans, however, occasionally result in false positives or negatives.
Currently, research is being done on a novel method of early lung cancer detection. The first results of a novel blood test for the identification of early-stage lung cancer were presented at the annual congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology this year. created by Personalis Inc., a cancer genomics company. The new test, known as the NeXT Personal ctDNA assay, can identify minute amounts of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in blood, indicating the presence of residual or recurrent cancer, according to Dr. Richard Chen, executive vice president of research and development at Personalis Inc. and chief medical officer. According to Chen, who spoke with Medical News Today, “the NeXT Personal technology leverages whole genome sequencing and advanced noise suppression with NeXT SENSE technology to identify an ultra-sensitive, unique genetic signature derived from a patient’s tumor.”. “This distinct signature is monitored in the patient’s bloodstream over an extended period to detect any lingering or recurrent cancer, attaining an industry-best sensitivity of approximately 1 part per million of ctDNA. He continued, “This increased sensitivity offers the potential for earlier detection, more accurate monitoring, earlier recurrence risk assessment and intervention, and significant advancement in lung cancer care.
The primary finding from the work with the NeXT Personal assay in TRACERx, according to Dr. Charles Swanton, principal investigator for the study and deputy clinical director of the Francis Crick Institute in London, concerns disease stratification in early-stage lung cancer. “At the moment, we don’t always have the ability to direct additional supplemental therapy, called adjuvant therapy, to those who would benefit it most because we have an imperfect system to understand which patients will typically have a poor clinical outcome following surgical resection of their primary tumor with curative intent,” Swanton told Medical News Today. This results in some patients receiving insufficient care while others receive excessive care. Better methods of classifying patients into those who will and won’t recover well from surgery are therefore desperately needed. Our investigation was set against this realization. According to Swanton, it’s critical to accurately categorize patients as high- or low-risk because this allows for “individualized” adjuvant therapy trials.
“It could have a significant impact to be able to withhold treatment from patients who are unlikely to benefit while providing it to a population of patients who would.” he said. In terms of recurrence detection, we are aware that recurrence can be identified nearly a year ahead of routine clinical surveillance in patients who have evidence of ctDNA in the blood after surgery. Similar to the pre-operative data, this allows for the implementation of aggressive treatment in the early-metastatic setting, thereby providing a more individualized approach to treatment. According to Chen, Personalis is now offering the NeXT Personal test for clinical testing as a part of an early access program. According to him, between 20 and 40 percent of patients with early-stage lung cancer eventually experience a recurrence, depending on the stage. The sensitivity of some recurrence detection techniques, such as imaging or other blood tests, may be restricted. It may be possible to treat or advance treatment for lung cancer patients sooner if more sensitive methods for identifying cancer that remains after treatment or recurs. “.
According to Swanton, the new blood test’s next research steps would involve validating the results in prospective cohorts. He stated, “This will pave the way for routine clinical use and the identification of particular cohorts where an ultra-sensitive assay can be applied.”. Dr. John Roberts, a thoracic surgeon with Lynn Cancer Institute, a division of Baptist Health South Florida, at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, told Medical News Today after reviewing details about the new NeXT Personal ctDNA assay that since CT scanning has been shown to reduce lung cancer mortality more than any medical intervention, an accurate blood test should have a similar effect. He clarified, “All of our blood testing for lung cancer only detects advanced cancer.”. Since a CT scan is currently the only method available for screening for lung cancer, any test that could be used as an early cancer screening would represent a significant advancement. According to Roberts, the majority of lung cancer patients who experience recurrence following treatment are already incurable when the disease is detected. It would be beneficial for any test to identify recurrences early on. “.
Sara Belton, PhD, a nurse navigator for the Lung Screening Program at the Cardiothoracic Outpatient Clinic in California at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, was also interviewed by Medical News Today regarding this study. She stated that any tools that can assist clinicians in the diagnosis and long-term management of lung cancer are most welcome. She works as a nurse navigator and focuses on lung cancer screening. According to Belton, “a blood test for lung cancer genome detection is being developed by several research consortia and is considered by many in the field as the ‘Holy Grail’ for lung cancer diagnosis.”. “If this research is successful, physicians will benefit from having a more accessible and potentially more accurate modality for screening for lung cancer than the current gold standard, CT imaging scans, which are best used in conjunction with clinical interpretation and excellent imaging visualization. I’m glad to hear this and am interested in learning more about their outcomes in the future. She went on to say that having an inexpensive, readily available blood test that can be used to screen for lung cancer will enable medical professionals to increase screening efforts, which are currently low in the US.
According to Belton, “current clinical guidelines for lung cancer screening recommend that only current or former smokers who are over 50 and have a smoking history of at least 20 pack years be screened for lung cancer every year.”. Nonetheless, these recommendations do not apply to the up to 10% of lung cancer patients who have never smoked. These are frequently the ones whose lung cancer is discovered too late to receive the best care and results. “A more widely available blood test would enable us as clinicians to identify these non-smokers who are at risk, and would enable us to intervene and treat them at an early enough stage to ensure favorable health outcomes, and potentially prevent them from passing away from lung cancer,” the speaker continued. “This would be a huge advancement in lung cancer care and screening, and I am optimistic that a blood test of this kind will be made commercially available in the coming years”.
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