Stories tagged lung cancer


Blood test for detecting lung cancer

Lung cancer is a killer
Lung cancer is a killer
A simple blood test that identifies early lung cancer before it has had a chance to spread could save lives by alerting doctors to the need for treatment. Lung cancer is responsible for 1.3 million deaths each year worldwide. Detecting lung tumors in the earliest stages now looks promising.

HAAH protein is an indicator

Mark Semenuk, a researcher at Panacea Pharmaceuticals in Gaithersburg, Maryland, US, presented the lung cancer test at a meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on molecular diagnostics in cancer therapeutic development run by the American Association for Cancer Research. Semenuk and colleagues developed the test, which measures levels of a protein called human aspartyl beta-hydroxylase (HAAH) in the blood.

Scientists believe HAAH migrates to the surface of a cell to help make it receptive to chemical cues that promote growth. Laboratory findings also suggest that if the protein stays too long at the cell's surface, it may fail to mature properly, and can become cancerous.

The test received approval for limited laboratory testing in July 2007, but the FDA has yet to approve a commercial version of the test.

In one experiment, they used this test to screen blood serum taken from 303 people, 160 of whom were known to have lung cancer at various stages of development. Their test accurately identified the presence of cancer in all but one of the patients with the disease.
In a second experiment, the team screened blood from a further 60 patients with lung cancer at several known stages of development. This included 15 people with stage 1 lung cancer – the earliest stage of this illness and at which point the cancer has not yet spread. All 60 samples tested positive for cancer, indicating that the test can reliably detect the illness early on. New Scientist


Detection (99%), false positives (8%)

More than 3 nanograms of HAAH per milliliter of blood is considered to be abnormal. In the test, people with lung cancer had an average HAAH count of 34 ng/ml of blood. Although the HAAH levels for the rest of the group, which included 93 non-smokers and 50 smokers, were much lower, about 8 % of those without the cancer had more than 3 ng/ml, triggering a handful of false positive results.


A cancerous growth in a windpipe.: Photo courtesy of District of Columbia Dept. of Health.
A cancerous growth in a windpipe.: Photo courtesy of District of Columbia Dept. of Health.

A new study has shown that examining patients with CAT scanners can drastically improve their chances for surviving lung cancer. Cancer is easier to treat when doctors catch it early, and CAT scans can detect cancerous growths much smaller than normal x-rays.

Lung cancer is the #1 killer in America. If caught early, a patient normally has about a 70% chance of living another ten years. In this study, that 10-year survival rate climbed to about 90%. Unfortunately, in most cases lung cancer is not detected until it has already started to spread, at which point the survival rate drops to 5%. The great advantage of this procedure is that it catches the cancer at a much earlier, more treatable stage.

Some researchers question the methods used in the study. A second, larger study is now underway to confirm the benefit of this procedure.