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Towards cancer screening using circulating DNA – Y M Dennis Lo, Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong SAR, China
October 25 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
There is much recent interest in the use of circulating DNA in plasma for performing liquid biopsies for cancer. However, most of the published efforts are for the investigation of patients who have already been diagnosed to have cancer. There is much less information on the use of circulating DNA for the screening of cancer. My laboratory has developed the use of circulating Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA as a biomarker for EBV-associated malignancies, especially for nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). We have just completed a large scale trial of using plasma EBV DNA in the screening of NPC in asymptomatic individuals. Our data indicate that using this approach, one can shift the stage distribution at diagnosis from 20% early stage diseases in an unscreened population to 70% early stage diseases in a screened population. Furthermore, NPC subjects whose cancer were detected by plasma EBV DNA screening had a much better prognosis than those NPC patients who were not screened. The implication of this work to cancer screening in the context of NPC and for other cancers will be discussed.