Researchers: Detect lung cancer earlier with new blood test

Researchers: Detect lung cancer earlier with new blood test

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Life-saving for COPD patients: blood test for the early detection of lung cancer

The life expectancy of people with cancer has increased across Europe in recent years, but significantly more patients could be treated better if their illness were diagnosed earlier. Researchers now want to develop a new blood test that will help to detect lung cancer in COPD patients.

New lung cancer test could save lives

According to the German Respiratory League, three to five million people in Germany alone suffer from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). According to health experts, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly known as smoker's cough, is the third leading cause of death worldwide. In addition, COPD patients have a particularly high risk of developing lung cancer in addition to their incurable lung disease. German researchers now want to develop a blood test that provides early information about whether a tumor has already developed in those affected. Such a test could save lives, because the sooner a lung tumor is detected, the better the treatment options.

Bronchial carcinoma is often recognized late

"You have lung cancer!" - shocking news for the sick. Because bronchial carcinoma, according to the medical term for lung cancer, is usually recognized late and is then life-threatening, reports the German Cancer Aid in a message.

Early diagnosis is therefore important to improve the chances of recovery for lung cancer patients.

To date, however, no procedure has been suitable for a wide-ranging early detection, since all previous methods are too imprecise and can also lead to incorrect diagnoses.

This is particularly serious for COPD patients because they are at high risk of lung cancer.

Breast cancer diagnosis

But new research results give hope. For example, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim reported last year about a procedure that can detect the disease at an early stage.

This rapid test, which is not yet ready for the market, should make it possible to make a diagnosis using breathing air.

"Breathing air analysis could make the detection of lung cancer in the early stages easier and more reliable, but it will not be able to completely replace conventional methods," said Guillermo Barreto, group leader at the Max Planck Institute in Bad Nauheim in a message.

"However, it can be used in addition to better identify early stages of cancer and reduce false positives."

Early cancer diagnosis using biomarkers

There may also be a simple blood test soon to prove whether or not patients with COPD have lung cancer.

This test is currently being developed by scientists led by Professor Dr. Eckart Meese at the Institute of Human Genetics in cooperation with Professor Dr. Robert Bals, Professor Dr. Andreas Keller and Professor Dr. Hans-Peter Lenhof, Center for Bioinformatics at Saarland University.

Their approach: biomarkers in the patient's blood indicate a possible tumor.

Destiny Bearer: MicroRNAs

Previous research results from project manager Meese show that so-called microRNAs are promising biomarkers for lung cancer.

MicroRNAs are small molecules that play an important role in reading and processing genetic information: they switch off unnecessary gene segments and thus control which proteins are produced in a cell.

MicroRNAs have a different molecular fingerprint in pathologically altered cells than in healthy cells.

“MicroRNAs can be detected in the blood and can thus provide information about an existing disease. This would be an important step for early cancer detection, ”said Meese. The human geneticist and his team examine the blood of COPD patients for the tell-tale molecules.

“Our goal is to use micro-RNAs as biomarkers for lung cancer. If we succeed in establishing the method, the chances of recovery for those affected will increase. ”This procedure has already produced relevant results for patients with prostate or pancreatic cancer.

"However, a lot of research will still be necessary before the advanced, interdisciplinary procedure is conceivable as routine diagnostics," explained the project manager.

"If a blood sample is sufficient for a reliable cancer diagnosis in the future, it would be a decisive breakthrough for improved diagnostic procedures and increasing chances of a cure," said Gerd Nettekoven, CEO of the German Cancer Aid.

Background information on lung cancer

According to estimates by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin, around 55,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer nationwide every year. It is the second most common cancer in men and the third most common in women.

With around 35,000 new cases per year, men are affected much more often than women. However, the number of women is increasing steadily. The reason: more and more women smoke.

For example, women have tripled their lung cancer rate since the 1970s and decreased by a quarter in men.

Lung cancer death rates among women have also increased in recent years. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Blood test could detect lung cancer earlier (May 2022).