Liquid biopsy for lung cancer early detection
Molecularly targeted therapies and immune checkpoint inhibitors have markedly improved the therapeutic management of advanced lung cancer. However, it still remains the leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide, with disease stage at diagnosis representing the main prognostic factor. Detection of lung cancer at an earlier stage of disease, potentially susceptible of curative resection, can be critical to improve patients survival. Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening of high-risk patients has been demonstrated to reduce mortality from lung cancer, but can be also associated with high false-positive rate, thus often resulting in unnecessary interventions for patients. Novel sensitive and specific biomarkers for identification of high-risk subjects and early detection that can be used alternatively and/or complement current routine diagnostic procedures are needed. Liquid biopsy has recently demonstrated its clinical usefulness in advanced NSCLC as a surrogate of tissue biopsy for noninvasive assessment of specific genomic alterations, thereby providing prognostic and predictive information. Different biosources from liquid biopsy, including cell free circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), circulating tumor cells (CTCs), exosomes and tumor-educated platelets (TEPs), have also been widely investigated for their potential role in lung cancer diagnosis. This review will provide an overview on the circulating biomarkers being evaluated for lung cancer detection, mainly focusing on results from most recent studies, the techniques developed to perform their assessment in blood and other biologic fluids and challenges in their clinical applications.