NEW YORK, July 15-A group of University of Michigan researchers has used microarray techniques to identify gene expression profiles that distinguish between high-risk and low-risk early stage lung cancer tumors.
The team, led by David Beer, analyzed the expression patterns of roughly 5,000 genes in 86 early- and late-stage adenocarcinomas. They zeroed in on a subset of 50 genes that could be used to identify early-stage tumors that were more likely to quickly progress to fatal disease, and created a risk index that allowed them to accurately distinguish between high-risk and low-risk tumors.
The genes were subsequently validated with Northern blot analysis.
Lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in industrialized countries, is often not detected until its later stages. Some non-small cell lung cancer may be diagnosed early on and treated with surgery, but traditional histology techniques generally can't distinguish between those early-stage cancers that may quickly recur and those that will not.
The technique could be developed for clinical use in identifying those early-stage cancer patients that require treatment beyond surgery, the authors write.
The research appears today in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Medicine.