Researchers learn more about what causes some people’s lung cancer to return
Scientists in the UK have found that the answer to why some people’s lung cancer returns, or is particularly difficult to treat, could relate to the genetic make-up of their tumours.
The studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Nature, are part of a major lung cancer research project called TRACERx, which is taking a detailed look at how lung cancer develops in people – including diagnosis, cure and relapse.
After analysing the tumours of 100 people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the researchers noticed that, among the people whose cancer returned or was particularly difficult to treat, there were key genetic traits in common.
The scientists then applied this finding to see if they could pick up on whether a person may be at risk of relapse quicker than with current standard testing. Blood samples were taken and tested from 24 people following surgery for NSCLC. The test correctly identified over 90% of those who would later go on to relapse – up to a year before current imaging methods would be able to pick this up.
The researchers suggest that this could lead to a new way to tackle relapse and to improve survival rates among people with NSCLC.
While the overarching TRACERx project is still at an early stage, it is hoped that the research will continue to make similarly promising findings.