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Early Stage Lung Cancer can Accurately be Detected through a Blood Test

The findings of a new study revealed that it could be possible to detect lung cancer in its early stages using a blood test. More often, lung cancer is diagnosed when at a late stage. Doctors have been working to find ways of diagnosing the disease earlier in patients who are at high risk such as smokers.

In the study:

  • Before, patients who are at high risk for lung cancer such as smokers would undergo a low-dose CT screening regularly to try and identify the early stage of cancer. This approach has not been utilized widely, with only two percent of patients using low-dose CT screening.

The data from the Circulating Cell-Free Genome Atlas (CCGA) had over 12,000 participants from 141 sites in the U.S. and Canada. Blood samples were analyzed from individuals without cancer, newly diagnosed patients and those with lung cancer of all stages, from early stage to the advanced stage of cancer.

  • Three different assays were tested on the samples – one assay known as whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) detected early-stage lung cancers amounting to 41% and late-stage cancers at 89%.
  • The next stage named whole-genome sequencing (WGS) resulted in 38% for early-stage lung cancer and late-stage cancers with 87%.
  • The third assay, also called whole-genome sequence (WGS) for detecting mutations that are non-inherited, identified early-stage lung cancers at 51% and late-stage cancers at 89%.

The conclusion is that almost half of the lung cancers are detected at the early stage, and approximately 90% of lung cancers that are advanced are detected in the blood. The results are quite supportive of the promise of the test.

The three tests have been able to detect lung cancer with reduced rates of false positives. One researcher suggested that the false-positive rate can be suppressed by filtering out the noise from the white blood cells. It is now conclusive that it is feasible to detect lung cancer using the liquid biopsy approach.



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