DNA microarray has been widely used in cancer research to better predict clinical outcomes and potentially improve patient management. The new approach provides accurate tumor classification and outcome predictions, such as tumor stage, metastatic status, and patient survival, and offers some hope for individualized medicine. However, growing evidence suggests that gene-based prediction is not stable and little is known about the prediction power of gene expression profiles compared with well-known clinical and pathologic predictors. This review summarized up-to-date publications in microarray-based lung cancer clinical outcome prediction and conducted secondary analyses for those with sufficient sample sizes and associated clinical information. Among the most commonly used analytic approaches, unsupervised clustering mainly recaptures tumor histology and provides variable degrees of prediction for tumor stage, lymph node status, or survival. Overall, most studies lack an independent validation. Supervised learning and testing generally offer a better prediction. Noted is that when conventional predictors of age, gender, stage, cell type, and tumor grade are considered collectively, the predictive advantage of the gene expression profiles diminishes. We conclude that outcome prediction from gene expression signatures selected by current analytic approaches can be mostly explained by well-known conventional predictors, particularly histologic subtype and grade of differentiation. A strategy for establishing independent or more accurate signatures is commented.
ASJC Scopus subject areas