The Airway Transcriptome as a Biomarker for Early Lung Cancer Detection.


Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related death due to its advanced stage at diagnosis. Early detection of lung cancer can be improved by better defining who should be screened radiographically and determining which imaging-detected pulmonary nodules are malignant. Gene expression biomarkers measured in normal-appearing airway epithelium provide an opportunity to use lung cancer-associated molecular changes in this tissue for early detection of lung cancer. Molecular changes in the airway may result from an etiologic field of injury and/or field cancerization. The etiologic field of injury reflects the aberrant physiologic response to carcinogen exposure that creates a susceptible microenvironment for cancer initiation. In contrast, field cancerization reflects effects of "first-hit" mutations in a clone of cells from which the tumor ultimately arises or the effects of the tumor on the surrounding tissue. These fields might have value both for assessing lung cancer risk and diagnosis. Cancer-associated gene expression changes in the bronchial airway have recently been used to develop and validate a 23-gene classifier that improves the diagnostic yield of bronchoscopy for lung cancer among intermediate-risk patients. Recent studies have demonstrated that these lung cancer-related gene expression changes extend to nasal epithelial cells that can be sampled noninvasively. While the bronchial gene expression biomarker is being adopted clinically, further work is necessary to explore the potential clinical utility of gene expression profiling in the nasal epithelium for lung cancer diagnosis, lung cancer risk assessment, and precision medicine for lung cancer treatment and chemoprevention. <i>Clin Cancer Res; 24(13); 2984-92. ©2018 AACR</i>.

  • Billatos E
  • Lenburg ME
  • Spira AE
  • Vick JL
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Clin Cancer Res, 2018, 24 (13)