Lung Cancer - New Advances In Early Detection

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. This is partly due to the fact that it is very difficult to diagnose lung cancer in its earliest stage. By the time actual symptoms appear, the cancer has advanced and has usually spread beyond the lungs.
So finding a method of early detection is critical to improving survival rates. Professor Rudolf M. Huber from the University of Munich in Germany says, "The prognosis of lung cancer patients is very dependent on how advanced their disease is. In stage I for example, where the tumor has not yet spread, 5-year-survival rates are about 70%; whereas in stage IV, where it has metastasized to other parts of the body, survival is about 1%. Even for patients with locally advanced tumors, survival over 5 years is only about 10%. Therefore every effort should be undertaken to diagnose early in the course of the disease."(1)

Early Detection Is Key
Several exciting studies and trials are underway that detail what's on the horizon in the search for early detection methods:
  • "Smell Print" '“ It has recently been discovered that certain gasses, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are present in the breath of lung cancer patients. Based on this information, Dr Nir Peled of the University of Colorado Cancer Center led a study that identified 350-400 different VOCs in either tumor cells or controls. Analysis showed that 120 of the VOCs appeared in 90% of all the tumor and control cells. Of the 120 compounds, 5 were present in all tumor cells but not the control group. 3 of the 5 were detected in the exhaled breath of 90% of the lung cancer patients. This is a very promising development for accurate, non-invasive, cost-effective early detection of lung cancer.(2)
  • Oral Exam '“ the predominant cause of lung cancer is cigarette smoking. It turns out that tobacco-induced molecular changes in the oral epithelium (cells that line hollow organs and generally produce mucous) is similar to those found in the lung epithelium. This finding holds out hope that lung cancer can be detected in smokers by oral examination, a much more practical alternative to a lung biopsy. Oral epithelium cells can be collected from the mouth and analyzed by assessing DNA variation in the cells. (3)
  • LuCED '“ Researchers have known for decades that sputum (phlegm or respiratory fluid) from lung cancer patients usually contains cancer cells that can be microscopically detected. However, slide-based testing results in an unacceptably high rate of false negative tests. To more effectively detect the cancer cells in sputum, researchers at Vision Gate Inc teamed up with scientists from the University of Washington. Vision Gate has developed the Lung Cell Evaluation Device (LuCED), an automated 3D cell imaging platform that allows for measurement of 3D cellular features indicating abnormal cell activity. Study results showed that the 3D cell analysis almost perfectly discriminated between normal and cancerous cells. There were no false positives and the sensitivity of detecting lung cancer cells in sputum was over 90%.(4)
The development of any or all of these innovative methods for diagnosing lung cancer have the potential for a profound impact on treatment of the disease. Only time will tell how many lives will be saved with these cutting-edge techniques.
Please remember to consult your health care provider before making any changes to your diet, exercise or supplement routine.
Until next time.

  1. European Society for Medical Oncology (2009, May 9). Early Detection Of Lung Cancer. ScienceDaily.
  2. International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (2009, August 2). Lung Cancer: Diagnostic Tools And Innovative Therapies Improve Patient Prognosis. ScienceDaily.
  3. Zhonghua Xiong, Guanze Xiong, Yi Man, Lichun Wang and Wei Jing, "Detection of lung cancer by oral examination", Science Direct, 8/2009
  4. European Society for Medical Oncology (2009, May 9). Early Detection Of Lung Cancer. ScienceDaily.

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