March 8, 2009

Blood Test Shows Promise for Early Detection of Lung Cancer


Blood Test Shows Promise for Early Detection of Lung Cancer

According to the results of a study presented at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), an experimental blood test may eventually allow for earlier detection of lung cancer in smokers.

Lung cancer is responsible for more deaths in the United States than breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer combined. One of the main reasons that lung cancer remains so deadly is that it is often diagnosed once it has spread from its site of origin. In an effort to diagnose the disease in its earliest and most treatable stages, research is focused on identifying effective screening measures for lung cancer.

In order for new screening methods to be adopted into routine clinical care, the measures must identify cancer early enough to improve outcomes, must be economically feasible, and must detect cancer with an acceptable degree of accuracy. As well, in order to encourage patient compliance, screening measures must not be too invasive, painful, or risky. To date no screening measures for lung cancer have been identified that provide a confirmed benefit.

Researchers in Germany recently developed a blood test that appears to identify early lung cancer in smokers. Based on initial work in small numbers of individuals with and without lung cancer, the researchers identified an RNA “fingerprint” in blood that was more common in individuals with lung cancer than in individuals without lung cancer.

The researchers then looked for this fingerprint in the blood of smokers who had not yet been diagnosed with lung cancer. Some of these smokers went on to be diagnosed with lung cancer and others did not. The researchers assessed whether the test accurately classified these two groups.

  • The test detected 75% of the lung cancer cases.
  • Among individuals without lung cancer, the test correctly classified 85% as cancer-free.

Further development of this or similar tests may eventually lead to the earlier detection of lung cancer and improved lung cancer survival.

Reference: Zander T, Debey-Pascher S, Eggle D et al. Predictive value of transcriptional changes in peripheral blood for future clinical onset of lung cancer in asymptomatic smokers. Proceedings from the 44th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Chicago, IL. 2008. Abstract #1509.

Related News:

Minimally Invasive Endoscopic Procedure Shows Promise for Detecting Lung Cancer (02/08/2008)

Blood Test May Help Detect Early Lung Cancer (10/11/2007)

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