16 November 2011
Vol 3, Issue 109

About The Cover

Cover image expansion

ONLINE COVER Timing of Tumor Detection. As tumors grow (y-axis, bottom to top), they shed clues of their presence—biomarkers—into the circulation (pink area). Researchers are working to define such biomarkers for use in the timely detection of tumors, ideally before metastasis (purple area). But the lead time for early detection using a blood-based biomarker depends on the growth trajectory of the cancer. An aggressive cancer (light blue line) may have a short lead time for biomarker detection, whereas a slower progressing cancer (dark blue line) may have a much longer lead time. The biomarker lead time expands (yellow arrows) if the threshold for biomarker diagnosis is decreased (downward arrow). In this week's issue, Hori and Gambhir describe a mathematical model that addresses a crucial question: Can tumor by-products in bodily fluids provide enough diagnostic accuracy and lead time to yield clinically meaningful early cancer detection? See also the accompanying Focus by Hazelton and Luebeck. [CREDIT: B. STRAUCH/SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE]