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Blood Test for Lung Cancer in the Works

Test in Development Could Spare Patients Invasive Procedures, Researchers Say

Lung Cancer Blood Test: Study Details continued...

Then they evaluated whether the markers could help detect lung cancer in early stages -- a challenge overall in the diagnosis of lung cancer. They compared blood samples from 31 patients with stage I lung cancer to the patients not diagnosed. There were 21 markers different enough between stage I cancer patients and non-cancer patients to suggest the method is sensitive enough to detect tumors in early stages.

The results are preliminary, Dubinett says, and more testing and validation are needed. "It will take a couple more years of testing in an appropriate clinical setting," he tells WebMD. "It might take three or four more years before these tests are clinically available."

Several other investigators are working on a lung cancer blood test, looking at various markers to predict early-stage cancers.

Today, Rachel Ostroff of SomaLogic in Boulder, Colo., is expected to report on the company's SomaDx, a lung cancer blood test under development that relies on a signature of 12 proteins.

It can correctly identify lung cancer more than 90% of the time, she tells WebMD.

She estimates that at least a half dozen such tests are in development.

Blood Test for Lung Cancer: Second Opinion

The results ''look very promising," says Lyudmila Bazhenova, MD, a medical oncologist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center, who attended the meeting and is familiar with the Dubinett research.

''A blood test will be very, very useful in those with a nodule on an X-ray or CT scan," she tells WebMD. Reducing the need for a lung biopsy is a substantial accomplishment. The need to order a lung biopsy to determine if a nodule is malignant understandably triggers anxiety in patients and physicians

"A lung biopsy is not as easy [to do] as a biopsy for breast cancer," partly because of the lung's location, she says.

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