April 22, 2015 – Early Disease?


Anchor lead:  Is comparing cancer versus noncancerous tissue a likely target for finding cancer early? Elizabeth Tracey reports.

Comparing normal and cancerous DNA from an individual reveals which mutations are unique to the cancer and may be used to guide treatment decisions, a Johns Hopkins study led by Victor Velculescu has found.  Could such an approach be used in early stage cancers or even for screening? Velculescu comments.

Velculescu: These types of genetic alterations are being right now primarily used in late stage cancers in order to identify therapeutic options in patients and also to identify the best clinical trials. We are seeing these types of tests being applied earlier and earlier in cancer as targeted therapies are being applied there. Of course there’s a whole other topic which is using these mutations as a possible tool for early diagnosis or actually classifying tumors.  :27

Velculescu says new approaches to identifying such mutations may even be possible with something as simple as a blood test rather than an invasive biopsy.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.