A study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in France has found a new blood test for four protein biomarkers can better identify people who will develop lung cancer in the future.
The study was performed in alliance with the US-based University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Researchers measured the blood levels of the tumour-related protein biomarkers in pre-diagnostic samples obtained from a cohort study in the US, to build a risk prediction tool.
This prediction tool was later evaluated in pre-diagnostic blood samples from two European studies, the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) and the Northern Sweden Health and Disease Study (NSHDS).
The researchers said that the biomarkers may enable an update to the lung cancer diagnostic criteria for the inclusion of current and former smokers in screening programmes.
These programmes, intended to minimise deaths due to lung cancer, leverage low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans to detect the cancer.
IARC Section of Genetics head Paul Brennan said: “This is the first study to systematically demonstrate that a panel of protein markers can improve the identification of future lung cancer cases.
“This test could be used to improve current screening eligibility criteria and increase the benefits of CT screening.”
The researchers were able to predict 63% of the study participants who would develop future lung cancer by using information obtained from the protein biomarkers and smoking data. They noted that existing eligibility criteria for CT screening in the US was able to identify only 42%.
Based on the findings, it was concluded that the biomarkers can potentially result in significant improvement in identification of people who are most likely to benefit from screening.