Barcelona, Spain – A routine test can detect whether certain cancer patients are at high risk of developing additional blood cancers, new research reveals.
Scientists at the Institut Gustave Roussy, a leading cancer research hospital in France, say blood samples, or liquid biopsies, can identify this increased risk. Previous research shows that tumors shed DNA into the blood, creating cell-free DNA (cfDNA).
Instead of invasive biopsies, blood samples are currently used to identify cfDNA, which may allow doctors to better characterize the cancer, select the best therapy, and monitor the progress of the disease.
A condition called clonal hematopoiesis (HC) is commonly found in blood samples and paved the way for even more diagnostic possibilities. Normally, hematopoietic stem cells create other blood cells from the bone marrow.
However, CH occurs when a hematopoietic stem cell begins to create other stem cells with a different genetic pattern than normal blood cells. The cells can then shed DNA into the blood, and previous research shows there is a one percent chance of CH progressing to blood cancer each year.
As a result, a team at Gustave Roussy wondered if blood samples could help identify patients who have or are likely to develop blood cancers. They tested biopsies for myelodysplastic syndrome and AML.
Myelodysplastic syndrome is a blood disorder that originates in the bone marrow and can develop into white blood cell cancer acute myeloid leukemia. The researchers believed that when a blood sample revealed high-risk CH, doctors should test the blood to identify the likelihood that it did. become blood canceror if it has already turned into blood cancer.
How successful can a simple blood test be?
Consequently, they took blood samples from 1,416 patients with a variety of solid tumors if they were enrolled in the Gustave Roussy Cancer Profiling (STING) study.
“We found that 113 patients, 8%, had at least one clonal hematopoiesis mutation that could be considered to put them at higher risk of developing blood cancers during their lifetime. Of these patients, 45 were referred to our hematology unit by their oncologist and five were later diagnosed with blood cancer: one with myelomonocytic leukemia, two with myelodysplastic syndrome and two with essential thrombocythemia”, says Dr. Marco Tagliamento, researcher of the Institut Gustave Roussy in France, in a Press release.
“Early detection could prevent complications during cancer treatments, for example, changes in blood counts and subsequent interruption or delay of treatment. It could also point to potential diagnostic and therapeutic avenues for clinicians to consider hematologic diseases,” adds Dr. Tagliamento.
The Gustave Roussy Molecular Tumor Board carefully selected each case for study.
“Case-by-case evaluation is crucial,” continues Dr. Tagliamento. “Different aspects must be considered when evaluating the potential impact and management of high-risk clonal hematopoiesis in patients who already have cancer. These relate, for example, to patients, their medical history, and underlying cancers. They should all be part of a balanced assessment made for each individual case.”
“We will continue to apply this approach within the Gustave Roussy Molecular Tumor Board. We want to implement and improve the efficiency of the algorithm to select patients with solid cancers who could benefit from a hematological evaluation. These results are part of a team project led by Dr. Mihaela Aldea and Dr. Jean Baptiste Micol”.
Certain mutations reveal an increased risk of cancer
The researchers presented the findings at the 34th EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Barcelona, Spain.
“This is well-conducted research that reveals an additional facet to the information obtained from liquid biopsies. Dr. Tagliamento is correct in emphasizing the importance of assessing the context for each individual patient. cancer patients they have a lot to worry about, so their doctors must take into account the patient’s clinical situation and their treatment plan. Patients’ anxieties mean that it will not always be appropriate to highlight a possible increased risk of developing additional blood cancer in later years,” says Professor Ruth Plummer of Newcastle University, Chair of the 34th EORTC-NCI Symposium. AACR, who did not take part in the investigation.
“It is likely that only a few specific clonal hematopoiesis mutations predict an increased risk of developing blood cancer at some point in the future. This study suggests that patients with these mutations should be referred for further evaluation and even then, decisions about what would be best for these patients will depend on a variety of other factors.”
South West News Service writer Pol Allingham contributed to this report.