Researchers at Vanderbilt have moved a step closer to that scenario with the identification of a distinct pattern of expression of 15 proteins in lung cancers that can predict a poor prognosis or a good prognosis. All patients in the poor prognosis group had died one year after diagnosis, while all patients in the good prognosis group were still alive. Median survival, the point at which half the patients were still alive, was six months for the poor prognosis group, compared to 33 months for the good prognosis group. "If this pattern is confirmed in larger studies, its prognostic power exceeds that of virtually any previously published standard molecular marker," the authors write in the August 9 issue of The Lancet.
The scientists also demonstrate that protein profiles obtained from a tiny amount of tumor tissue only 1 millimeter in diameter and only 1/1000 of a millimeter in thickness -- can be used to predict risk that the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
"Involvement of lymph nodes is one of the most important factors in determining treatment strategies, so the clinical implications of these data could be significant," said Dr. David P. Carbone, Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, professor of Medicine and Cancer Biology. "Being able to use molecular markers to divide patients into high- or low-risk groups would also be very useful in determining treatment strategy."
Such a predictor could help patients and families, with their physicians, decide the most appropriate action, which could range from more aggressive therapy at the outset to avoiding therapies that are more likely to hurt quality of life for the patient than to extend that life.
The research involved investigators from the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center; Vanderbilt School of Med
Contact: Cynthia Floyd Manley
Vanderbilt University Medical Center