WASHINGTON, D.C. Elevated levels of bilirubin in the blood get attention in the clinic because they often indicate that something has gone wrong with the liver. Now researchers have found that male smokers with low levels of the yellow-tinged chemical are at higher risk for lung cancer and dying from the disease.
A team led by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reported its findings in a late-breaking abstract at the AACR Annual Meeting 2013 in Washington, D.C.
"Our study indicates male smokers with low levels of bilirubin are a high-risk group that can be targeted with smoking cessation help, low-dose spiral CT screening of their lungs and other preventive measures," said senior author Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of MD Anderson's Department of Epidemiology and the Betty B. Marcus Chair in Cancer Prevention.
Lung cancer usually is diagnosed at a late stage, when tumors are inoperable and treatments largely ineffective. The overall five-year survival rate is 15 percent, but it falls to 5 percent for stage 3 lung cancer patients and 1 percent for those with stage 4 disease.
Spiral CT scans catch cancer early, biomarker could reduce false positives
The National Lung Screening Trial found that low-dose spiral computed tomography screening reduces mortality among heavy smokers by 20 percent. However, 95 percent of growths found by spiral CT are false positives, a barrier to large-scale screening.
"Validated biomarkers are urgently needed to improve risk prediction for lung cancer and to reduce false positives, shifting the balance toward more effective and efficient CT screening for cancer detection," Wu said.
The researchers started with an objective analysis of levels of metabolites substances produced during metabolism. Bilirubin is produced during the breakdown of old blood cells.
They analyzed 60 samples divided into three groups known as "trio
|Contact: Scott Merville|
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center