Liquid Biopsy Testing using Saliva for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) develops when certain cells mutate in a person’s lungs. When this process starts, a patient will generally not experience any signs or symptoms until cancer grows large enough. Similarly, tumors are only detectable through image scans when they have grown large enough to be seen in those suspected areas. Until this point, cancer is able to grow and spread undetected. Lung cancers may originate in the lungs but can spread to other parts of the body. Approximately 230,000 U.S. citizens a year will receive a lung cancer diagnosis with an estimated 135,000 deaths. Lung cancer deaths have become more numerous than the deaths from prostate, breast, brain, and colorectal cancer combined. It has now become the most common cause of cancer deaths in men and the second most common in women.
Doctors classify lung cancer types according to the size and shape of the cancer cells seen under a microscope. Around 13% of lung cancers are small-cell lung cancers (SCLC) and 84% are non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC).
NSCLC is an umbrella term that includes several subsets, like adenocarcinoma, squamous cell, and large cell carcinoma. Many people receive a diagnosis of NSCLC after it has spread to other parts of their body. Changes in the DNA of the tumor cells can make cancer spread faster.
Genetic mutations are a natural part of life, and many are harmless. However, when the cells in a person’s lungs mutate in certain ways, NSCLC can develop. Some genetic mutations can make cells develop in uncontrolled and unusual ways. These mutations lead to the growth of tumors, some of which can be cancerous.
NSCLC-causing mutations can arise randomly. However, scientists estimate that roughly 90% of lung cancers have links to tobacco use. Other causes include alcohol use, exposure to ionizing radiation, exposure to radon, and exposure to asbestos.
Successful cancer treatments depend not only on better therapies but the critical ability to detect cancer at its earliest stage when treatment is radically more successful. Cancer is a highly individualized disease. Liquid biopsy using saliva can deliver early detection with the crucial disease data needed for informed, personalized, and effective treatments.
Traditional tumor biopsies remain costly and invasive. Often, when analysis is possible, the tumor is already settled or even in a metastatic state. Additionally, tissue biopsy only provides a single snapshot of the molecular aberration in the tumor at that specific time. The UCLA and Spectrum research collaboration introduces a new saliva-based liquid biopsy approach. This process uses the Spectrum saliva collection system and sample preservation technology to identify cell-free circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA). The easy, noninvasive, and pain-free spit-testing option can be collected in clinic or self-collected at home.
The simple integration of a single saliva test into a yearly wellness exam or even included as part of a twice-a-year preventive dental regimen easily provides the repeat saliva sampling schedule to enable the blanket assurance of the earliest possible detection. After diagnosis, repeat testing affords easy, continuous monitoring for treatment response and the emergence of drug resistance without an office visit. also, the benefit of detecting additional disease activity and mutations help prevent relapses during the course of the disease and beyond for lifelong cancer-free confirmation.