New study provides insights into the characteristics of pulmonary carcinoids and identifies a new subtype, called supra-carcinoids


New IARC study provides insights into the characteristics
of pulmonary carcinoids and identifies a new subtype, called supra-carcinoids

Lyon, France, 24 August 2019 – A new study on pulmonary
carcinoids, a rare, understudied type of lung cancer that so far does not seem
to be related to smoking, has been published in the journal Nature
Communications.1 Led by scientists from the International Agency for Research
on Cancer (IARC) and partners, the study identified an aggressive new subtype
of pulmonary carcinoids, called supra-carcinoids.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer
(IARC) is part of the World Health Organization. Its mission is to coordinate
and conduct research on the causes of human cancer and the mechanisms of carcinogenesis,
and to develop scientific strategies for cancer control. The Agency is involved
in both epidemiological and laboratory research and disseminates scientific
information through publications, meetings, courses, and fellowships.

were identified using innovative sequencing technologies that provide
information on the molecular characteristics of tumours,” says Dr Lynnette
Fernandez-Cuesta, a scientist in the Genetic Cancer Susceptibility Group at
IARC and a co-author of the study. “Patients with supra-carcinoids have worse
overall survival (33% at 10 years) compared with patients with other pulmonary
carcinoids (76% at 10 years).”

The study’s authors also developed a tool to distinguish
carcinoid patients with favourable survival (88% at 10 years) from those with
poor survival (27% at 10 years) using artificial intelligence algorithms
informed by the generated molecular data.

The study enabled the researchers to create a molecular map
of pulmonary carcinoids. Such a map can play a key role in personalized
medicine. As the same innovative sequencing technologies start to be used for
personalized medicine, this map would provide a reference to situate individual
patients in the molecular landscape of pulmonary carcinoids.

“One can think about sequencing technologies as generating
something like GPS coordinates, but having these coordinates without a map is
not helpful,” says IARC scientist Dr Matthieu Foll, a co-author of the study.
“We need a map to locate a patient in a region with similar molecular
characteristics, and this will guide diagnosis, prognosis, and clinical

The incidence of pulmonary carcinoids is increasing worldwide, especially at advanced stages, but little is known about the cause. Further studies are warranted. “This tool could play an important role in better guiding diagnosis and prognosis,” stresses Dr Fernandez-Cuesta. “This is particularly important for these tumours, and for rare cancers in general, because, when combined, they represent one quarter of all cancer cases, and they are usually understudied and neglected diseases with limited therapeutic opportunities.”