Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Lung Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Blood Test Spots Lung Cancer

Test Could Detect Cancer Earlier, at More Curable Stages
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 2, 2006 (Istanbul, Turkey) -- A new blood test may be able to spot lung cancer in its earliest stages, when it is potentially curable, French researchers report.

The test has the potential to save millions of lives, says researcher William Jacot, MD, a cancer specialist at the Hopital Arnaud de Villeneuve in Montpellier, France.

"While it's not ready for prime time, the test would ideally be given to seemingly healthy people at high risk of lung cancer -- for example, smokers aged 45 or older," he tells WebMD. "You want to give it before symptoms develop, perhaps repeating it every six months or so."

Test Detects Protein Fingerprints

Speaking at the annual meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), Jacot says the test detects proteins produced by cancer cells in the blood. Cancer cells produce different types and amounts of proteins in the blood than other cells, giving them a unique fingerprint, he explains.

For the study, Jacot analyzed blood samples from 170 people, 147 of whom had lung cancer and 23 of whom had smoking-related chronic lung disease. The test was able to identify unique protein blueprints in more than 90% of the people with lung cancer.

Need for Early TestOther researchers stress the need for such a test.

"One of the main problems with lung cancer is that we presently have no means for early detection," says Dirk Schrijvers, MD, a medical oncologist at Middelheim Hospital in Antwerp, Belgium, and chairman of the ESMO's Publication Working Group. "A blood test like this could overcome this problem."

The implications are huge, he says, given that about 2 million people worldwide -- mostly smokers -- are diagnosed with lung cancer every year.

In the U.S., the American Cancer Society estimates there will be about 174,470 new cases of lung cancer in 2006.

According to Jacot, nearly three-fourths of people with lung cancer are diagnosed only after the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. That results in a dismal outlook, with only 6% to 16% of people still living five years later.

Today on WebMD

Broken cigarette
Do you know the myths from the facts?
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
cancer fighting foods
Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
Pets Improve Your Health
Vitamin D
Lung Cancer Surgery Options