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Blood test could predict best lung cancer treatment

A blood test could predict how well patients with small-cell lung cancer will respond to treatment, say researchers from the University of Manchester. 
cancer cells

A blood test could predict how well patients with small-cell lung cancer will respond to treatment, say researchers from the University of Manchester.

They isolated tumour cells that had broken away from the main cancer known as circulating tumour cells from the blood of 31 patients with small-cell lung cancer (SCLC).

Starting point

When the cells were analysed, the researchers found that patterns of genetic faults measured before treatment were linked to how well and how long a patient might respond to chemotherapy.

Lead researcher Caroline Dive, based at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, said: Unfortunately, we have very few treatment options for patients with SCLC, and none at all for those whose cancer is resistant to chemotherapy.

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A blood test could predict how well patients with small-cell lung cancer will respond to treatment, say researchers from the University of Manchester. 


The study has given researchers insight into how drug resistance develops
in patients with SCLC. Picture: Science Photo Library 

They isolated tumour cells that had broken away from the main cancer – known as circulating tumour cells – from the blood of 31 patients with small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). 

Starting point 

When the cells were analysed, the researchers found that patterns of genetic faults measured before treatment were linked to how well and how long a patient might respond to chemotherapy. 

Lead researcher Caroline Dive, based at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, said: ‘Unfortunately, we have very few treatment options for patients with SCLC, and none at all for those whose cancer is resistant to chemotherapy. 

‘By identifying differences in the patterns of genetic faults between patients, we now have a starting point to begin to understand more about how drug resistance develops in patients with this aggressive form of lung cancer.’ 


Dive C et al (2016) Molecular analysis of circulating tumour cells identifies distinct copy-number profiles in patients with chemosensitive and chemorefractory small-cell lung cancer. Nature Medicine. doi: 10.1038/nm.4239

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