Possible Lung Cancer Test 'Has Potential'

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Detecting Early Lung Cancer

Cancer Research UK today cautiously welcomed the results of a small-scale trial of a possible new blood test for lung cancer.

The results, announced at the annual congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology, showed that the measurement of certain 'signature' proteins in the blood could one day be used to detect lung cancer early, before it has spread and when treatment is most effective.

Nearly 75 per cent of patients diagnosed with lung cancer are caught only in the advanced stages of the disease, when the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body.

Dr Kat Arney, cancer information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "Early detection is crucial for the successful treatment of lung cancer. Techniques like this, based on our knowledge of the molecules in cancer cells, have the potential to become powerful tests for the disease.

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"But this is only a small study, involving fewer than 150 lung cancer patients. We look forward to the results of larger scale trials of this potential screening tool, which will tell us whether it could ever become a viable test for widespread use in the future.

"It's important to remember that smoking causes a quarter of all cancer deaths in the UK. Giving up smoking is the best thing you can do to lower your risk of lung cancer."

The research, led by Dr. William Jacot and colleagues at the Hopital Arnaud de Villeneuve, Montpellier, France, analysed blood samples from 170 patients (of whom 147 had lung cancer and 23 had chronic lung disease), looking for the protein blueprint of cancer cells.

Their test accurately identified lung cancer in nearly nine out of ten specimens tested.

"It's still not good enough to use as a screening tool, but it's better than conventional tumour markers," said Dr. Jacot, adding that the test's methodology needs to be refined and confirmed in larger studies using greater numbers of healthy people, so as not to skew the results.

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