London: An international team, led by Dr Samir Hanash of the Hutchinson Center in Seattle, claims it is one step closer to being able to spot lung cancer before the onset of symptoms.
"Developing a blood test to detect lung cancer is increasingly within reach," the `Daily Express` quoted Hanash as saying.
Previously undiscovered protein molecules in the blood of sufferers could be key to developing the test -- an alternative to invasive diagnostic methods. The molecules,
initially discovered in mice, were found to be similar in humans, says the team.
The discovery may lead not only to a blood test that can diagnose lung cancer, but which can distinguish between various types of the disease.
Dr Hanash added: "There is a substantial need for simple, noninvasive means to detect lung cancer. While imaging-based screening to detect lung cancer has shown promise, blood-based diagnostics provide a complementary means for detection,
disease classification, and monitoring for cancer progression and regression."
In fact, experiments with mice led the scientists to identify a "signature" of protein molecules also present in humans with the disease.
Further research will now be carried out to determine how reliable the test would be, they say.