Abnormal Cells in Blood Linked to Lung Cancer and Increase as the Disease Progresses

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A research report in the journal Clinical Cancer Research reported finding genetically abnormal cells in blood of non-small cell lung cancer patients that match abnormal cells found in tumor cells and these increase as the disease progresses. Lung cancer patients also had many more of these circulating in the blood than in the blood of closely matched controls. The researchers believe further research will show that these circulating abnormal cells are circulating non-small cell lung cancer cells. They said “Blood tests of these circulating tumor cells could be used to diagnose lung cancer earlier, monitor response to therapy and detect residual disease in patients after treatment.” To detect the abnormal cells the researchers used a technique called fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and believe this is the first time this technique has been used this way.
Using 12 biomarker probes that target aberrations previously connected to lung cancer they analyzed 59 cases of non-small cell lung cancer and 24 controls including smokers and non-smokers. Findings showed 1) a highly significant difference in the average number of abnormal cells in the blood of cases and controls. 2) abnormal cells were significantly associated with the stage of the disease with cells increasing as the disease progressed. 3) Eight of the biomarkers had a strong overall correlation between the circulating abnormal cells and tumors. More information can be found in the above named journal.

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