Administering a blood test at the time of a lung cancer diagnosis can provide physicians with important information about the genetic mutations of the cancer, which largely determine treatment response.
Blood tests also are much faster compared to analyzing a tissue sample taken from the tumor, allowing patients to receive the appropriate treatment sooner.
The study, “Blood-Based Genomic and Proteomic Testing for Newly Diagnosed Lung Cancer Patients to Facilitate Rapid Treatment Decisions and Prognostic Conversations,” was presented at the 2016 CHEST Annual Meeting in Los Angeles Oct. 22-26.
Although non-small cell lung cancers are grouped together based on certain characteristics, they do not always share the types of mutations driving cancer growth. Such mutations also are large determinants a of tumor’s response to treatment.
While surgery is used most often to remove lung tumors, drug treatment usually is required when patients get diagnosed at later stages of the disease. Studies also show that if testing for cancer biomarkers is done immediately when a patient receives the diagnosis, it shortens the time to treatment decision by an average of 22 days, and the time to treatment start by an average of 13 days.
The research team, led by Jennifer Mattingly, MD, from the Gundersen Health System in Wisconsin, analyzed if a blood test of cancer biomarkers could be used to speed treatment decisions.
It turned out that blood tests provided physicians with enough important information to make a treatment decision within 72 hours, which was much faster compared to tissue samples.
“Lung cancer often goes undiagnosed until more advanced stages. Treatment decisions need to be made as quickly as possible. Thanks to recent advances in differentiating cancers based on their genetic and protein biology, treatment of lung cancer is now individualized,” Mattingly said in a press release.
Choosing the right treatment cannot be based only on information on a tumor’s size and spread, but also on its genetic composition.
“Waiting for test results on biopsy material to determine the correct course of action can delay treatment for several weeks, sometimes months. The rapid and accurate results of these tests significantly decrease the wait time between diagnosis and treatment,” said Mattingly.