Early Detection Research Network

Optical detection of buccal epithelial nanoarchitectural alterations in patients harboring lung cancer: implications for screening.

We have recently developed a novel optical technology, partial wave spectroscopic (PWS) microscopy, which is exquisitely sensitive to the nanoarchitectural manifestation of the genetic/epigenetic alterations of field carcinogenesis. Our approach was to screen for lung cancer by assessing the cheek cells based on emerging genetic/epigenetic data which suggests that the buccal epithelium is altered in lung field carcinogenesis. We performed PWS analysis from microscopically normal buccal epithelial brushings from smokers with and without lung cancer (n = 135). The PWS parameter, disorder strength of cell nanoarchitecture (L(d)), was markedly (>50%) elevated in patients harboring lung cancer compared with neoplasia-free smokers. The performance characteristic was excellent with an area under the receiver operator characteristic curve of >0.80 and was equivalent for both disease stage (early versus late) and histologies (small cell versus non-small cell lung cancers). An independent data set validated the findings with only a minimal degradation of performance characteristics. Our results offer proof of concept that buccal PWS may potentially herald a minimally intrusive prescreening test that could be integral to the success of lung cancer population screening programs.

Backman V, Bogojevic A, Damania D, Hensing TA, Kuzniar T, Pass HI, Pradhan P, Ray D, Rogers JD, Rom WN, Roy HK, Shah M, Subramanian H


Cancer Res., 2010, 70 (20)

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