Early diagnosis of lung cancer is important for its treatment, but it's not always easy because many diseases start with similar symptoms, such as a simple cough, and more in-depth investigations are invasive, costly or inaccurate. Screening using fluid from the lining of the lung would be quicker, less invasive and lower-cost, and researchers have found a biomarker that could make this earlier diagnosis much more practical.
In a study published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, researchers looked at a specific type of fluid in the lung, the endobronchial epithelial-lining fluid (ELF), taken from near lung nodules spotted on CT scans. They found that expression of the TNC (tenasin-C) gene and the size of the nodule could predict lung cancer.
Genetic biomarkers could also improve treatment outcomes. In 2006, researchers from the University of North Carolina reported that lung cancers can be divided into three subtypes. In a new study, published in PLoS One, they found that these subtypes and the genetic changes in the tumors can affect how people respond to treatment.
This confirms that lung cancer is a complex disease and that these subtypes and genetic changes could be used to predict people's responses to different treatments, improving outcomes for patients and potentially speeding up drug development as well.