Tags: lung cancer | blood test | detects | earliest stages | biomarkers | cancer biomarkers

Blood Test Detects Lung Cancer Early

Thursday, 14 January 2010 11:50 AM

A new blood test is being developed that will detect lung cancer in its earliest stages—when it's most curable. Researchers at UCLA said a study of the test is encouraging, and once perfected, it will spare patients suspected of having lung cancer from undergoing painful invasive and expensive procedures such as lung biopsies, and even more invasive lung surgery.

Dr. Steven Dubinett of UCLA found a series of 40 cancer biomarkers—substances in the blood that can be detected with tests. Experts believe the biomarkers are made of proteins that either contribute to cancer or whose levels are influenced by the presence of cancer. They believe the proteins will be in measurable amounts in the blood of people with very early lung cancer.

Dubinett and his colleagues found that in patients with lung cancer, 33 out of 40 biomarkers were different when compared with those who did not have lung cancer.

They studied 90 lung cancer patients and 56 people who hadn't been diagnosed with lung cancer but had been heavy smokers who had not smoked for at least a year. The biomarkers accurately identified those with lung cancer 88 percent of the time and correctly diagnosed those without lung cancer 79 percent of the time.

When blood samples from 31 patients with stage 1 lung cancer were compared to cancer-free patients, researchers found 21 markers different enough to suggest that the test is delicate enough to detect cancer in its earliest stages.

According to Cancer Monthy, about 219,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed each year in the U.S., and about 159,000 people die from the disease. Between 60 and 80 percent of lung cancer patients diagnosed in stage 1 are alive five years after diagnosis compared to less than 5 percent of those whose cancer has metastasized. Diagnosing the deadly disease earlier could literally mean the difference between life and death for tens of thousands of Americans each year.

It could also mean less pain and suffering from lung cancer surgeries. ''Currently, 20 percent to 25 percent of surgeries done for suspected lung cancer turn out to be benign diagnoses," Dubinett told WebMD.

Even though the test results are hopeful, says Dubinett, the test won't be immediately available. "It will take a couple more years of testing in an appropriate clinical setting," he said. "It might take three or four more years before these tests are clinically available."

© HealthDay

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A new blood test is being developed that will detect lung cancer in its earliest stages—when it's most curable.
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Thursday, 14 January 2010 11:50 AM
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