New research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine says that measuring the levels of f C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood could help detect abnormal lesions like cancer in the airways of smokers. CRP is a marker of inflammation and measuring the blood levels of this protein could help doctors identify people at risk for developing lesions that could cause irreversible damage.
Dr. Stephen Lam, from the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues measured plasma levels of CRP in 65 patients who were either smokers or had given it up. These patients had bronchial lesions that were more than 1.2 millimeters in diameter. At an interval of six months, researchers took biopsies to assess the progress of the lesions. It was found that more than half the participants developed progressive "dysplastic" lesions and had CRP levels that were 64 percent higher than others. "These data will be helpful in the design of future chemoprevention and early detection studies by identifying high-risk subjects for non-small-cell lung cancer," the authors conclude, but add that more studies are needed to conclusively prove the links.
SOURCE: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, March 2006.