One leading lung cancer researcher said the findings, while still very preliminary, are particularly relevant in light of a 2011 groundbreaking study, which showed that screening current and former heavy smokers with three annual low-dose CT scans reduced the risk of death from lung cancer by 20 percent, compared with three annual chest X-rays.
"More than a quarter of patients had one or more pulmonary nodules, but 96 percent of these nodules were not cancer," said Dr. Paul Bunn, the James Dudley chair in cancer research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in Denver. "So what we'd like to have is some kind of test that, if you have a CT scan and a nodule is found, would help distinguish whether or not that nodule is cancerous."
Bunn noted that other scientists are working on detecting early lung cancer based on proteins in the blood, as well as volatile organic compounds in breath, and that all of the research is still many years away from yielding commercially available tests.
"We make advances one step at a time and these are first steps, but that's important," Bunn said.
The findings were to be presented this week at a lung cancer meeting in San Diego that was jointly sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. Data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
For more on lung cancer, go to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Renat Shaykhiev, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, genetic medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City; Paul A. Bunn, M.D., professor and James Dudley chair, can
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