Lung cancer blood test 'at an early stage'
Measuring the levels of four blood proteins could provide the basis for a new test for patients at risk of lung cancer, researchers have said.
But the research is at an early stage and will need validating in larger trials, said a Cancer Research UK spokesperson.
Patients who have suspect signs on computerised tomography (CT) scans usually have to undergo follow-up scans and surgery in order to determine whether they have lung cancer.
However, a blood test looking for four proteins could provide a less-invasive follow-up procedure, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Centre.
The researchers recruited around 100 lung cancer patients and a similar amount of cancer-free people in order to study the levels of four proteins in the blood.
Publishing their findings in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, they reveal that the protein levels were different in patients with lung cancer than in people who were cancer-free.
Lead investigator Dr Edward Patz, a radiologist at Duke, described the research as "an important step in the right direction".
Ed Yong, senior health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "This is one of many blood tests that are being investigated for the early detection of lung cancer.
"These tests have the potential to save many lives, but research in this area is at a very early stage. Much more work is needed to discover if these tests could be successfully used in the diagnosis of patients."