Cancer DNA circulating in the bloodstream of lung cancer patients can provide doctors with vital mutation information that can help optimize treatment when tumor tissue is not available, an international group of researchers has reported at the European Lung Cancer Conference (ELCC) in Geneva, Switzerland, April 15-18, 2015. The results have important implications for the use of cancer therapies that target specific cancer mutations, explains Dr. Martin Reck from the Department of Thoracic Oncology at Lung Clinic Grosshansdorf, Germany, who presented the findings at the conference. The title of Dr. Reck’s presentation was “Investigating the Utility of Circulating-Free Tumor-Derived DNA (ctDNA) in Plasma for the Detection of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) Mutation Status in European and Japanese Patients with Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer.” Testing for the presence of these mutations in the tumor itself is not always possible, however studies have suggested that DNA from the tumor that circulates in the bloodstream of patients may provide similar information. The large international ASSESS study aimed to compare the ability of blood testing to detect EGFR mutations with the more standard method of testing the tumor itself. "We were really asking a question on behalf of patients," Dr. Reck said: "Is there a valid test that can identify an EGFR mutation and give me the opportunity for superior treatment, even if my lung tumor is not accessible for bronchoscopy or CT-guided biopsy? And, are the results of this blood test in agreement with the results of the 'gold-standard' tissue test?" Overall, the study included 1,162 matched tissue and blood samples.
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