MD Anderson: Blood tests better predict patients needing lung cancer screenings

A personalized lung cancer risk assessment that includes a blood test, developed by researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, identified 9.2 percent more lung cancer cases for screening and reduced referral to screening among non-cases by 13.7 percent, a study published Jan. 7 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force currently recommends adults at high risk for lung cancer receive a low-dose CT scan each year. 

Researchers developed the risk assessment using a blood test based on a four-marker protein panel and an independent model accounting for smoking history. 

More than 10,000 biospecimens from the independent model study, including 1,299 blood samples collected from 552 individuals who developed lung cancer and 8,709 samples collected from 2,193 people who did not develop lung cancer, were used to test the effectiveness of the risk assessment. 

Among individuals with at least a 10 pack-year smoking history, the combined blood test with the independent model showed overall improved sensitivity and specificity compared to current screening criteria.

"A blood test would identify people who could benefit from lung cancer screening but are not eligible today," Sam Hanash, MD, PhD, professor of clinical cancer prevention and leader of the McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer, said in a news release. "Tens of millions of people worldwide could benefit from lung cancer screening. If you can improve screening eligibility by even 5 percent, that is incredibly impactful."

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