Circulating Tumor Cells in Diagnosing Lung Cancer: Clinical and Morphologic Analysis

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the value of circulating non-hematologic cells to differentiate benign from malignant lung lesions and their comparison with clinico-histologic features of corresponding primary lesions.
Circulating cells were isolated by size method from peripheral blood of 77 patients with malignant (n = 60) and benign (n = 17) lung lesions. They were morphologically classified as cells with malignant feature; cells with uncertain malignant feature; and cells with benign feature; then statistically correlated with clinico-cytopathologic characteristics of corresponding lung lesion.
Malignant circulating cells were detected in 54 of 60 (90%) malignant patients, and in 1 of 17 (5%) benign patients; benign circulating cells in 1 of 60 (1%) malignant patients and in 15 of 17 (88%) benign patients; and circulating cells with uncertain malignant aspect in 5 of 60 (8%) malignant patients and 1 of 17 (5%) benign patients. For a malignant circulating cells count greater than 25, sensitivity and specificity were 89% and 100%, respectively. The count was significantly correlated with stage, size, and standard uptake value of primary tumor. In 39 of 54 (72%) cases, the malignant circulating cells allowed a specific histologic diagnosis of the corresponding primary tumor after immunohistochemical analysis.
Malignant circulating cells may be a valid marker in the diagnostic workup of lung lesions. However, our resuts should be corroborated by larger future studies especially for patients having small nodules.

An assessment of diagnostic performance of a filter-based antibody-independent peripheral blood circulating tumour cell capture paired with cytomorphologic criteria for the diagnosis of cancer. Lung Cancer

Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are reported to be predictive for prognosis and response to treatment in advanced lung cancer. However, the clinical utility of the CTCs detection remains unknown for early stage lung cancer as the number of CTCs is reported as low, providing challenges in identification. We have evaluated diagnostic performance of filtration-based technology using cytomorphologic criteria in patients undergoing surgery for lung cancer.
Material and methods
We processed blood from 76 patients undergoing surgery for known or suspected lung cancer using ScreenCell® Cyto filter devices. Captured cells were stained using haematoxylin and eosin and independently assessed by two pathologists for the presence of atypical cells suspicious for cancer. Diagnostic performance was evaluated against pathologist reported diagnoses of cancer from surgically obtained specimens.
Cancer was diagnosed in 57 patients (77.0%), including 32 with primary lung cancer (56.1%). The proportion of patients with early stage primary lung cancer in which CTCs were identified was 18 and 21 (56.3% and 65.6%, respectively) as reported by two pathologists. The agreement between the pathologists was 77.0% corresponding to a kappa-statistic of 53.7% indicating moderate agreement. No significant differences were found for the percentage of CTCs for primary and metastatic cancer as well as for cancer stages. On sensitivity weighted analysis, a sensitivity and specificity were 71.9% (95% CI 60.5–83.0) and 52.9% (95% CI 31.1–77.0), respectively. On specificity weighted analysis, a sensitivity and specificity were 50.9% (95% CI 39.3–64.4) and 82.4% (60.4–96.2), respectively.
The performance of the tested filter-based antibody-independent technology to capture CTCs using standard cytomorphologic criteria provides the potential of a diagnostic blood test for lung cancer.

Cluster circulating tumor cells in surgical cases of lung cancer

lung cancer screencell

Objectives: A cancer lesion sheds tumor cells into the circulating blood as circulating tumor cells (CTCs). Since cluster CTCs have been considered as precursor lesions of metastasis, their clinical implication was investigated in this study according to the preoperative status of cluster CTC detection in surgical cases of clinically early-stage lung cancer.

Methods: Among 104 surgical patients of early-stage lung cancer, CTCs were extracted from the peripheral blood before surgery using a micro-pore size selection method (ScreenCell®) and diagnosed microscopically. Implications of detecting cluster CTC were assessed according to the prognosis and clinicopathological characteristics.

Results: The status of CTC detection was not detected in 77 cases (74.0%), single CTC only detection in 7 cases (6.7%), and cluster CTC detected in 20 cases (19.2%). Patients with cluster CTCs exhibited significantly lower recurrence-free survival and overall survival than did patients of other groups. In addition, in hazard ratio analysis, the hazard ratios were independent of other predictors of poor prognosis, and detection of cluster CTCs was associated with predictors of poor prognosis.

Conclusion: Cluster CTCs were detected in cases where the original lung cancer lesion had clinical predictors of poor prognosis and were independent negative predictors of survival.

Y disruption, autosomal hypomethylation and poor male lung cancer survival

Lung cancer is the most frequent cause of cancer death worldwide. It affects more men than women, and men generally have worse survival outcomes. We compared gene co-expression networks in affected and unaffected lung tissue from 126 consecutive patients with Stage IA–IV lung cancer undergoing surgery with curative intent. We observed marked degradation of a sex-associated transcription network in tumour tissue. This disturbance, detected in 27.7% of male tumours in the discovery dataset and 27.3% of male tumours in a further 123-sample replication dataset, was coincident with partial losses of the Y chromosome and extensive autosomal DNA hypomethylation. Central to this network was the epigenetic modifier and regulator of sexually dimorphic gene expression, KDM5D. After accounting for prognostic and epidemiological covariates including stage and histology, male patients with tumour KDM5D deficiency showed a significantly increased risk of death (Hazard Ratio [HR] 3.80, 95% CI 1.40–10.3, P = 0.009). KDM5D deficiency was confirmed as a negative prognostic indicator in a further 1100 male lung tumours (HR 1.67, 95% CI 1.4–2.0, P = 1.2 × 10–10). Our findings identify tumour deficiency of KDM5D as a prognostic marker and credible mechanism underlying sex disparity in lung cancer.

Lack of association between Screencell-detected circulating tumour cells and long-term survival of patients undergoing surgery for non-small cell lung cancer: A pilot clinical study

Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are cancer cells of epithelial origin that are present in peripheral blood samples. ScreenCell detection of CTCs and the association with long term survival in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients was evaluated in the present study. A total of 33 patients undergoing surgical resection for NSCLC were recruited. Patients were followed up for 5-years post-operatively. Pre-operative patient bloods samples were processed using ScreenCell. CTCs were detected in 26 (79%) patients. In patients who were positive for CTCs, a total of 9 (35%) patients succumbed to the disease, whereas in patients negative for CTCs, a total of 4 (57%) patients succumbed to the disease (P=0.29). No association was identified between positive CTCs and poorer survival (Chi-squared 1.47, P=0.23; hazard ratio, 0.42; 95% confidence interval: 0.1-1.7). The presence of CTCs detected with ScreenCell does not influence prognosis in patients with NSCLC that was operated on. The high rate of CTC detection is encouraging in supporting this technology to aid early lung cancer diagnosis.

Prognostic Relevance of Circulating Tumor Cells and Circulating Cell-Free DNA Association in Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treated with Nivolumab

The treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has been revolutionized by immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). The identification of prognostic and predictive factors in ICIs-treated patients is presently challenging. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and cell-free DNA (cfDNA) were evaluated in 89 previously treated NSCLC patients receiving nivolumab. Blood samples were collected before therapy and at the first and second radiological response assessments. CTCs were isolated by a filtration-based method. cfDNA was extracted from plasma and estimated by quantitative PCR. Patients with baseline CTC number and cfDNA below their median values (2 and 836.5 ng from 3 mL of blood and plasma, respectively) survived significantly longer than those with higher values (p = 0.05 and p = 0.04, respectively). The two biomarkers were then used separately and jointly as time-dependent covariates in a regression model confirming their prognostic role. Additionally, a four-fold risk of death for the subgroup presenting both circulating biomarkers above the median values was observed (p < 0.001). No significant differences were found between circulating biomarkers and best response. However, progressing patients with concomitant lower CTCs and cfDNA performed clinically well (p = 0.007), suggesting that jointed CTCs and cfDNA might help discriminate a low-risk population which might benefit from continuing ICIs beyond progression.

Circulating Tumor DNA Reflects Tumor Metabolism RatherThan Tumor Burden in Chemotherapy-Naive Patients withAdvanced Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer: 18F-FDG PET/CTStudy

We aimed to evaluate the relationships between circulating tumor cells (CTCs) or plasma cell–free DNA (cfDNA) on one side and a comprehensive range of 18F-FDG PET/CT–derived parameters on the other side in chemotherapy-naive patients with advanced non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Methods: From a group of 79 patients included in a trial evaluating the role of pretreatment circulating tumor markers as predictors of prognosis in chemotherapy-naive patients with advanced NSCLC, we recruited all those who underwent 18F-FDG PET/CT for clinical reasons at our institution before inclusion in the trial (and thus just before chemotherapy). For each patient, a peripheral blood sample was collected at baseline for the evaluation of CTCs and cfDNA. CTCs were isolated by size using a filtration-based device and then morphologically identified and enumerated; cfDNA was isolated from plasma and quantified by a quantitative polymerase chain reaction using human telomerase reverse transcriptase. The following 18F-FDG PET/CT–derived parameters were computed: maximum diameter of the primary lesion (T), of the largest lymph node (N), and of the largest metastatic lesion (M); SUVmax; SUVmean; size-incorporated SUVmax; metabolic tumor volume; and total lesion glycolysis. All parameters were independently measured for T, N, and M. The associations among CTCs, cfDNA, and 18F-FDG PET/CT–derived parameters were evaluated by multivariate-analysis. Patients were divided into 2 groups according to the presence of either limited metastatic involvement (M1a or M1b due to extrathoracic lymph nodes only) or disseminated metastatic disease. The presence or absence of metabolically active bone lesions was also recorded for each patient, and patient subgroups were compared. Results: Thirty-seven patients recruited in the trial matched our PET-based criteria (24 men; age, 64.5 ± 8.1 y). SUVmax for the largest metastatic lesion was the only variable independently associated with baseline cfDNA levels (P = 0.016). Higher levels of cfDNA were detected in the subgroup of patients with metabolically active bone lesions (P = 0.02), but no difference was highlighted when patients with more limited metastatic disease were compared with patients with disseminated metastatic disease. Conclusion: The correlation of cfDNA levels with tumor metabolism, but not with metabolic tumor volume at regional or distant levels, suggests that cfDNA may better reflect tumor biologic behavior or aggressiveness rather than tumor burden in metastatic NSCLC.

Circulating tumor cells and microemboli can differentiate malignant and benign pulmonary lesions

The presence of circulating tumor cells (CTC) or microemboli (CTM) in the peripheral blood can theoretically anticipate malignancy of solid lesions in a variety of organs. We aimed to preliminarily assess this capability in patients with pulmonary lesions of suspected malignant nature. We used a cell-size filtration method (ScreenCell) and cytomorphometric criteria to detect CTC/CTM in a 3 mL sample of peripheral blood that was taken just before diagnostic percutaneous CT-guided fine needle aspiration (FNA) or core biopsy of the suspicious lung lesion. At least one CTC/CTM was found in 47 of 67 (70%) patients with final diagnoses of lung malignancy and in none of 8 patients with benign pulmonary nodules. In particular they were detected in 38 (69%) of 55 primary lung cancers and in 9 (75%) of 12 lung metastases from extra-pulmonary cancers. Sensitivity of CTC/CTM presence for malignancy was 70.1% (95%CI: 56.9-83.1%), specificity 100%, positive predictive value 100% and negative predictive value 28.6% (95%CI: 11.9-45.3%). Remarkably, the presence of CTC/CTM anticipated the diagnosis of primary lung cancer in 3 of 5 patients with non-diagnostic or inconclusive results of FNA or core biopsy, whereas CTC/CTM were not observed in 1 patient with sarcoidosis and 1 with amarthocondroma. These results suggest that presently, due to the low sensitivity, the search of CTC/CTM cannot replace CT guided percutaneous FNA or core biopsy in the diagnostic work-up of patients with suspicious malignant lung lesions. However, the high specificity may as yet indicate a role in cases with non-diagnostic or inconclusive FNA or core biopsy results that warrants to be further investigated.

Perioperative detection of circulating tumourcells in patients with lung cancer

Lung cancer is a leading cause of mortality and despite surgical resection a proportion of patients may develop metastatic spread. The detection of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) may allow for improved prediction of metastatic spread and survival. The current study evaluates the efficacy of the ScreenCell® filtration device, to capture, isolate and propagate CTCs in patients with primary lung cancer. Prior to assessment of CTCs, the present study detected cancer cells in a proof‑of‑principle‑ experiment using A549 human lung carcinoma cells as a model. Ten patients (five males and five females) with pathologically diagnosed primary non‑small cell lung cancer undergoing surgical resection, had their blood tested for CTCs. Samples were taken from a peripheral vessel at the baseline, from the pulmonary vein draining the lobe containing the tumour immediately prior to division, a further central sample was taken following completion of the resection, and a final peripheral sample was taken three days post‑resection. A significant increase in CTCs was observed from baseline levels following lung manipulation. No association was able to be made between increased levels of circulating tumour cells and survival or the development of metastatic deposits. Manipulation of the lung during surgical resection for non‑small cell lung carcinoma results in a temporarily increased level of CTCs; however, no clinical impact for this increase was observed. Overall, the study suggests the ScreenCell® device has the potential to be used as a CTC isolation tool, following further work, adaptations and improvements to the technology and validation of results.

Circulating Cell-Free DNA and Circulating Tumor Cells as Prognostic and Predictive Biomarkers in Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients Treated with First-Line Chemotherapy

Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) and circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are promising prognostic and predictive biomarkers in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In this study, we examined the prognostic role of cfDNA and CTCs, in separate and joint analyses, in NSCLC patients receiving first line chemotherapy. Seventy-three patients with advanced NSCLC were enrolled in this study. CfDNA and CTC were analyzed at baseline and after two cycles of chemotherapy. Plasma cfDNA quantification was performed by quantitative PCR (qPCR) whereas CTCs were isolated by the ScreenCell Cyto (ScreenCell, Paris, France) device and enumerated according to malignant features. Patients with baseline cfDNA higher than the median value (96.3 hTERT copy number) had a significantly worse overall survival (OS) and double the risk of death (hazard ratio (HR): 2.14; 95% confidence limits (CL) = 1.24-3.68; p-value = 0.006). Conversely, an inverse relationship between CTC median baseline number (6 CTC/3 mL of blood) and OS was observed. In addition, we found that in patients reporting stable disease (SD), the baseline cfDNA and CTCs were able to discriminate patients at high risk of poor survival. cfDNA demonstrated a more reliable biomarker than CTCs in the overall population. In the subgroup of SD patients, both biomarkers identified patients at high risk of poor prognosis who might deserve additional/alternative therapeutic interventions.