Genetic test could personalise lung cancer treatment say doctors

In collaboration with the Press Association

A new genetic test could be able to predict which early-stage lung cancer patients will require immediate chemotherapy, say researchers.

Doctors hope that the test, which is in the earliest stages of development, could have the potential to save thousands of lives every year.

Equally, by pinpointing those who will not benefit, the test could help spare many the side effects chemotherapy, they added.

The test works by analysing the activity of thousands of genes in an individual tumour sample, to identify patterns that indicate if the tumour is likely to come back.

"Our new test predicted with up to 90 per cent accuracy which early-stage lung cancer patients would suffer a recurrence of their cancer and which patients would not," said lead author, professor Anil Potti.

"We now have a tool that can be used to move these high-risk patients from the 'no chemotherapy' group into the aggressive treatment group."

The researchers developed the technique by comparing genetic profiles and medical histories from previous lung cancer patients.

The technique could in theory be applied to any cancer, but the research team chose lung cancer due to its poor survival rate.

Cancer Research UK welcomed the results.

Dr Kat Arney, the charity?s science information officer, said: "Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK yet survival rates are low.

"This test has the potential to identify those patients that are likely to benefit from chemotherapy during the early stages of lung cancer, and we are eager to hear the results of the large clinical trial that is planned, to find out how effective the test is and whether it can save lives."

The research was carried out by the Duke University Medical Centre and is published in the New England Journal of medicine.

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