April 8, 2011

New Lung Cancer Test for Non-Smokers?

By: Rhonda Craig, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A blood test could help more accurately detect lung cancer in non-smokers. The research was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 102nd Annual Meeting in Orlando this week.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death in men and women in the U.S. This year, more than 210,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease, and up to 20 percent of them will have never smoked. However, by the time these individuals are diagnosed, 85 percent of them will have late-stage disease, which is marked by a five-year survival rate of only 15 percent.

"Most lung cancer cases are diagnosed at late-stage disease where survival rates are very low, but if lung cancer is detected very early on, survival rates increase dramatically. As such, there's a real need to develop new methods to detect lung cancer early on," Charlie Birse, Ph.D., associate director of product development at Celera Corporation, told Ivanhoe.

For the study, Dr. Birse and his colleagues tested more than 600 samples to find biomarkers that would indicate the presence of cancer. Once the biomarkers were successfully selected, researchers ran the tests on samples of 80 people who had never smoked, including 40 who did not have lung cancer and 40 who did. Both groups were matched for age and gender. The researchers found that biomarkers successfully indicated cancer 83 percent of the time.

The performance of the test suggests it may be used to compliment other imaging tests, like CT scans and chest scans, which are typically used to detect lung cancer.

"Concerns still remain regarding the low specificity of CT scanning. We believe that biomarkers may serve as valuable adjunctive tool to CT scanning," Dr. Birse concluded.

Researchers say the test could help provide a better degree of accuracy in diagnosis. The authors say while the findings were promising, they still need to be confirmed in a larger study.

SOURCE: AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011, held in Orlando, FL, April 2-6, 2011