It may be possible to use a blood test to detect lung cancer, according to a Duke University Medical Center-led study.
Publishing in the Dec. 10 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers said a test for four blood proteins -- CEA, RBP, SCC and AAT -- may provide a simple follow-up for patients who've had suspicious chest lesions detected by imaging methods such as CT scan.
"CT scans have a very high false positive rate when trying to discover lung cancer," lead investigator Dr. Edward Patz Jr., a radiologist at Duke, said in a prepared statement. "What that leads to is several follow-up imaging studies or invasive procedures like biopsy, which have risks of their own. This study is the first step in developing a test that would allow us to sample a patient's blood and determine whether more invasive testing and treatment are necessary."
In this study, the researchers compared the levels of the four proteins in the blood of about 100 lung cancer patients to levels in about 100 people without cancer.
"Using the four markers ... we were able to distinguish patients who had cancer from those who didn't with over 80 percent accuracy," Patz said.
Each of the four protein markers has previously been linked to lung cancer.
Checking for just one isn't sufficient for a definitive finding of lung cancer, but testing for all four may prove highly effective, Patz said.
The next step is a larger study to test the accuracy of these four protein markers in people who've had lung lesions detected by CT scan.
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The U.S. National Cancer Institute