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Home Industry News Blood test ‘detects lung cancer’

Blood test ‘detects lung cancer’

19th September 2007

A new blood test could help to identify lung cancer in its early stages, raising the chances of successfully treating the disease, scientists have found.

Currently scans and chest X-rays are performed on people with symptoms of lung disease but by the time symptoms are showing the disease is often well advanced.

Researchers have now found a protein in the blood which they believe to be linked to all stages of lung cancer but which rarely shows up in the blood of people without the disease.

As such a test for the protein could help physicians decide whether smokers or others at high risk of lung cancer should be referred for lung imaging.

“A positive test for this protein marker, followed by CT scanning, may help identify individuals with lung cancer at a stage in which treatment is more effective, possibly even curative,” said research scientist Mark Semenuk from Panacea Pharmaceuticals at the American Association for Cancer Research conference.

In cancer cells the implicated protein, Human Aspartyl (Asparaginyl) beta-Hydroxylase (HAAH), resides on the surface of the cells in comparison to normal cells where it lives inside the cell body.

The researchers found that 99 per cent of 160 patients with all stages and various types of lung cancer had high levels of HAAH protein in their blood, but only nine per cent of 93 non-smokers without lung cancer had a positive HAAH blood test.

Commenting on the finding, Dr Kat Arney, senior science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “As well as encouraging people to quit smoking to prevent lung cancer in the future, we urgently need to find ways to diagnose the disease earlier.”

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