Home 5 Articles 5 Blood Test to Detect Early-Stage Lung Cancer Inches Closer to Reality

Blood Test to Detect Early-Stage Lung Cancer Inches Closer to Reality

by | May 10, 2021

Maybe one day, medical science will find a way to eradicate lung cancer from the face of the earth. Until then, improving diagnosis of lung cancer at the early stages will remain an urgent priority. To save lives, the diagnostic would have to be not only accurate and highly sensitive, but relatively inexpensive, simple and […]

Maybe one day, medical science will find a way to eradicate lung cancer from the face of the earth. Until then, improving diagnosis of lung cancer at the early stages will remain an urgent priority. To save lives, the diagnostic would have to be not only accurate and highly sensitive, but relatively inexpensive, simple and easy to use. Something like a blood test. Of course, laboratories and research scientists around the world are working toward that goal. And now comes word of a promising project taking place north of the border. The Diagnostic Challenge Few forms of cancer are as deadly as lung cancer. One reason for that is the absence of clinical symptoms in its early stages. Adding to the problem is that CT screening, the primary method of diagnosing lung cancer, is a costly procedure that physicians are highly unlikely to order for patients without symptoms. As a result, lung cancer is most often diagnosed in the later stages. By then, the cancer has advanced enough to do damage and make treatment outcomes poor. Thus, approximately half of all lung cancer cases are likely to be diagnosed at stage 4 when the patient’s three-year survival rate can be as low as 5 percent. Early detection increases survival rates dramatically. If the cancer is detected at stage 1, survival rates rise 66 percent. Early Detection Blood Testing Once dismissed as nothing but a pipe dream, new evidence has emerged to suggest that it may be feasible to develop a simple blood test that is capable of detecting early-stage lung cancer. Of course, liquid biopsy type blood tests have long been used to assess the genetic characteristics of tumors to inform patient treatment at the late stages. But a 2018 breakthrough study from the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2018 was among the first to conclude that these tests might also be able to actually detect the condition at an early stage. The TMIC Project Having established its feasibility, laboratories and researchers now face the challenge of actually coming up with an actual early-stage lung cancer detection blood test. One of the more promising projects is being carried out in British Columbia by Dr. David Wishart, head of The Metabolics Innovation Centre (TMIC). Dr. Wishart and his TMIC team were recently able to secure funding via a Sparks Grant from the Canadian Cancer Society to support development of a liquid biopsy test to detect and measure lung cancer-specific metabolites for use in early screening. “We are coming up with a whole variety of novel, cheap and easy ways to detect early-stage cancer using only metabolites found in blood or urine,” Dr. Wishart noted.

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