Gene test could reveal lung cancer survival

In collaboration with the Press Association

A simple genetic test could predict which lung cancer patients will respond best to treatment say Taiwanese researchers.

The finding could help doctors establish which non-small-cell lung cancer patients are most likely to benefit from aggressive courses of chemotherapy.

The disease has a 40 per cent relapse rate within five years of initial surgery to remove tumours.

Patients whose results were found to indicate a high risk were three times more likely to see their cancer return over this period, said the National Taiwan University researchers.

Using DNA analysis, the researchers analysed tumour samples from 125 patients for unusual activity, reducing an initial 672 genes down to five related to survival.

They found that patients classified as 'low risk' using this five-gene 'signature' had a typical survival of 40 months, while those rated as 'high risk' had typical survival times of 20 months.

"The test is very easy. You can do all of these measurements over one or two days," said lead researcher Professor Pan-Chyr Yang.

Researchers noted that similar tests had been successfully used to 'personalise' treatment for breast and blood cancer.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.