Research into diagnosing and staging lung cancer
Research is looking at tests to try and improve the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer. Staging means how large the cancer is and whether it has spread. On this page you can find information about
Research into diagnosis and staging
There is research looking at tests to try and improve the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer. Staging means how large the cancer is and whether it has spread. It is important for doctors to know the stage of the cancer because the stage affects which treatment is appropriate.
Doctors are looking at various new types of test to see if they can diagnose lung cancer more quickly and stage it more accurately. The tests include
- DNA tests
- Protein tests
- Looking inside the airways using ultrasound
- Scans such as newer types of MRI scans, CT scans, and PET scans
Cancer Research UK supports a lot of this research. You can find lung cancer trials on our clinical trials database.
View a summary of treating lung cancer.
There is research looking at tests to try and improve the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer. Staging means how large the cancer is and whether it has spread. We have detailed information about lung cancer staging.
It is important for doctors to know the stage of the cancer because it affects which treatment is appropriate.
A lung cancer tumour can shed tiny pieces of DNA into the blood. This is called circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA). A study in London is looking at a blood test to see if researchers can find ctDNA in early stage non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The researchers also want to find out about any changes to ctDNA after surgery for early NSCLC, and to see whether ctDNA can help identify people who are at high risk of the cancer coming back.
A study called the CLUB trial extension is looking for proteins in blood, urine and tissue samples. The researchers want to see if any of the proteins are linked to lung cancer. Researchers hope to one day develop a blood or urine test to show up these proteins (biomarkers) and help diagnose lung cancer more easily. The biomarkers may also help to spot lung cancer earlier if it comes back after treatment.
It is common to have a test called a bronchoscopy when trying to diagnose lung cancer. A bronchoscopy uses a tube to look into the airways of the lung. Researchers hope that newer tests may help doctors to diagnose and stage lung cancer quicker than standard tests.
The Lung-BOOST trial looked at endobronchial ultrasound to diagnose lung cancer and see if had spread (the stage). The trial team found that it was a useful test and halved the time it took between testing and a treatment decision compared with the usual tests to diagnose lung cancer such as bronchoscopy.
Some trials are looking at newer types of scans. They are checking to see if they can give better information about the size of lung cancers and whether the cancer has spread.
The SPUTNIK study is looking at PET scans and a type of CT scan called a dynamic CT scan. A dynamic CT scan shows up the blood vessels and blood flow better than a normal CT scan. The researchers want to see which type of scan is better at diagnosing early stage lung cancer.
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