A new discovery could pave the way for a simple blood test that would detect lung cancer even in its early stages. This discovery was made by scientists at the University of York.
Early detection of lung cancer has been shown to save lives, but available methods for screening at-risk people are either too costly or involve invasive procedures.
Dr Dawn Coverley, who is based at the University's Department of Biology and is funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research, has found that an altered form of a protein called Ciz1 is present in lung cancers.
"The Ciz1 protein is involved in cell growth and division. Altered forms of this protein are present in cancer cells, and one specific form is prevalent in lung cancers. Surprisingly, this variant-Ciz1 somehow gets into the blood stream and once there appears to be very stable," she said.
"This means that by looking for variant Ciz1 in the blood we can pick out people who have small tumours in their lungs, without the need to take a biopsy or undergo surgery
"We think that the test will be especially powerful when combined with X-ray or CT imaging, and will offer doctors an alternative way to test whether an abnormal growth is cancerous. For the patient, this means that many could avoid invasive diagnostic procedures altogether," she added.
The study was recently published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.