Development and validation of a gene expression tumour classifier for cancer of unknown primary

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Abstract

Summary

Accurate identification of the primary tumour in cancer of unknown primary (CUP) is required for effective treatment selection and improved patient outcomes. The aim of this study was to develop and validate a gene expression tumour classifier and integrate it with histopathology to identify the likely site of origin in CUP.

Summary

RNA was extracted from 450 formalin fixed, paraffin embedded samples of known origin comprising 18 tumour groups. Whole genome expression analysis was performed using a bead-based array. Classification of the tumours made use of a binary support vector machine, together with recursive feature elimination. A hierarchical tumour classifier was developed and incorporated with conventional histopathology to identify the origins of metastatic tumours.

Summary

The classifier demonstrated an accuracy of 88% for correctly predicting the tumour type on a validation set of known tumours (n = 94). For CUP samples (n = 49) having a final clinical diagnosis, the classifier improved the accuracy of histology alone for both single and multiple predictions. Furthermore, where histology alone could not suggest any specific diagnosis, the classifier was able to correctly predict the primary site of origin.

Summary

We demonstrate the integration of gene expression profiling with conventional histopathology to aid the investigation of CUP.

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