Blood-based biomarkers in lung cancer: prognosis and treatment decisions
Despite recent advances, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains a devastating disease with overall poor prognosis. Major contributing factors include obstacles to diagnosing the disease early in its course during the asymptomatic stage as well as diversity and complexity of its biology underlying tumorigenesis and tumor progression. Advances in molecularly targeted therapies which drives the development of personalized cancer care require precise and comprehensive understanding of tumor biology, not only at the time of diagnosis but also during treatment course and surveillance. As lung tumor tissue can be difficult to obtain without invasive and potentially risky procedures, it is difficult to monitor treatment response with serial tissue biopsies. Development of non-invasive but reliable blood based tumor markers has become an important research area. In this review, we focus on the following circulating biomarkers that have been identified in recent years: circulating tumor cells (CTCs); circulating cell-free nucleic acids, such as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and microRNA (miR); and other biomarkers such as genomic and proteomic features. These biomarkers not only have prognostic values, but also can help guild treatment decisions by monitoring tumor burden, detecting minimal residual disease and/or recurrent disease, as well as monitoring evolution of genetic alterations throughout the treatment course.