Blood Test Hopes to Detect Early Lung Cancer

Lung cancer blood test for smokers undergoing trial

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Detecting lung cancer early is the best chance at curing it. Like many cancers, the larger and more advanced it becomes the harder it is to successfully treat.

Yet as you may recall from the recent controversy over mammograms, detection programs are not perfect.

The results from many medical tests are not black and white, and screening everybody for cancer means that grey areas need to be investigated.

"Ask your doctor about cancer screening."

In order to improve the science behind cancer screening, researchers from the National Jewish Health organization are testing different ways of identifying populations that are at higher risk for developing cancer than normal, to walk the fine line between false positives and missing those early cases of cancer.

Recent data from the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial found that this type of specialized targeted screening is the single way to prevent lung cancer deaths, but the team thinks that with a new technology they have developed, they can do even better.

The new technique adds a blood test on top of the detection provided by a chest CT scan, in order to reduce false positives further.

Combining both of these helps more patients avoid the sleepless nights involved in waiting for a biopsy result unless the risk is significant enough to absolutely require one.

"Early detection of cancer could dramatically improve survival and reduce the terrible toll it takes on people today," said Debra Dyer, MD, radiologist at National Jewish Health and co-principal investigator on the study. "We believe this study may demonstrate an effective method for doing just that."

"We have learned that CT screening of high-risk patients can reduce lung-cancer deaths. But we need to enhance screening to detect a greater number of early-stage lung cancers. That is the patient's best chance of a cure," said James Jett, MD, Professor of Medicine at National Jewish Health and principal investigator on the trial.

"Combining CT screening with biomarker tests, such as the EarlyCDT-Lung, may help us detect more lung cancers at earlier stage while reducing the number of biopsies or operations performed for noncancerous abnormalities."

The study uses the EarlyCDT-Lung test to find early signs of cancer.

Results will be collected over the next four years, analyzing data from 1,600 patients total.

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Review Date: 
May 9, 2012
Last Updated:
May 11, 2012