Entries in Genetic Testing (3)


New Gene Test Could Spy Which Lung Cancer Will Recur

Hemera/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- In 2011, 220,000 Americans were diagnosed with lung cancer.  Eighty percent of those Americans had a form of the disease known as non-small cell lung cancer.

In its early stages, doctors usually decide to remove the tumor surgically.  But as Dr. Edward Kim, chief of head and neck medical oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, explained, what to do next is often a difficult question to answer.

"Patients with this early stage of lung cancer pose a real dilemma for clinicians," he said in an email to ABC News.  "The current literature is less than definitive when deciding between the benefit of the chemotherapy against the risk of chemotherapy side effects for the patient."

The reason the early stage of this kind of lung cancer is so tricky to treat is because about 50 percent of people with it will see it return after surgery.  That means that half of all patients with it might have been helped with chemotherapy, while the other half would have experienced no benefit from chemo, but considerable side effects and cost. So, for years, the question has been, "How can we tell these patients apart?"

Dr. David Jablons, chief of thoracic surgery at the University of California at San Francisco, believes he has found the answer.

In a study published in the journal Lancet on Thursday, Jablons, in collaboration with a large consortium in China, described a new genetic test to determine which of the surgically removed lung cancers will return.

"This is the largest molecular study done on lung cancer so far, and the results are really encouraging for lung cancer patients," Jablons says.

Developed by Pinpoint Genomics, the gene test was used to analyze lung cancer cells of more than 1,500 patients in the United States and China. Researchers examined 14 specific genes that are thought to make cancer more likely to return.  They then compared the results to see which patients actually had a recurrence and which patients did not.

Not only were they able to predict which patients had a return of their lung cancer, they found that this genetic test outperformed traditional methods used to predict the return of this cancer, opening the door to the possibility that the test will make it possible to decide who should get chemotherapy and who should not.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Genetic Testing for Aortic Aneurysms Could Spur Early Treatment

Comstock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- There may be a way to genetically screen people who may be at risk for certain types of aortic aneurysms, according to new research from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston.

Twenty percent of the time, thoracic aortic aneurysms -- a swelling in the blood vessel that pumps blood throughout the body -- occur in patients who already have a family history of the disease.  At this point, doctors can screen them for certain genes that may indicate they are at increased risk, but up until recently there was little known about how to screen the other 80 percent of patients who, until their aneurysm ruptures, have no signs, symptoms or family history to alert doctors to their condition.

"We could screen the general population with echocardiograms, but that would be very expensive, so our other option is to screen genetically," says Dr. Dianna Milewicz, senior author on the research, published Sunday in the journal Nature Genetics.

Using the DNA of 765 aortic aneurysm patients who don't have a family history, researchers could identify a gene variant on chromosome 15 that makes its carriers twice as likely to have a thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection, or TAAD.

Because about 35 percent of the population has this gene variant, this discovery alone is not enough to start genetically screening people for TAAD, but over the next five to 10 years, Milewicz says she and her collaborators at UTHealth and Baylor College of Medicine hope to identify enough gene variants to narrow the focus of the screening.

One to two percent of the population dies each year from aortic aneurysms, mostly individuals over the age of 60.  Forty percent of those with aortic aneurysms will die suddenly when they rupture.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Parents Favor Personal Genetic Testing for Their Children

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- So-called direct-to-consumer genetic testing has been hailed as one of the great medical breakthroughs of the 21st century.  According to a Georgetown University study in the journal Pediatrics, parents agree.

A survey found that parents favor genetic testing for their children to determine if they are at greater risk for disease as adults.

The tests included those for such common illnesses as colon, skin and lung cancers, heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes.

The authors say test results could motivate young and healthy people to modify their behavior before bad habits leading to disease become deep-seated.

But they also caution that -- so far at least -- "the actual risks, benefits and utility of genetic testing for common preventable health problems has not been established for adults or for children."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio