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Urine Test Could Gauge Smokers' Lung Cancer Risk
Date:4/19/2009

to figure out if a biologic marker known as NNAL could predict cases of lung cancer.

The team found that the third of smokers who had the highest levels of NNAL and a marker called cotinine were 8.5 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those with levels in the lowest third and similar histories of smoking.

"We compared apples with apples -- people who smoked the same amount of cigarettes and for the same amount of years," Yuan noted.

Scientists could perfect the predictive powers of the test, which costs about $100 to $120, within a few years, Yuan said.

But there's a catch: Currently, no intervention -- outside of quitting smoking -- reduces a smoker's chance of developing lung cancer.

A screening test could help doctors figure out which smokers should undergo more sophisticated screening, Edelman said, but at the moment it's difficult to detect tumors in their early stages.

"We need better and more sophisticated strategies to allow us to screen for early lung cancer, as that is only when it is curable but also when there are no symptoms," he said.

More information

There's more on the smoking-cancer connection at the American Cancer Society.



SOURCES: Jian-Min Yuan, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Norman H. Edelman, M.D., chief medical officer, American Lung Association, Chicago; April 19, 2009, presentation, American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, Denver


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