New blood test can diagnose lung, prostate cancer

Washington: Scientists have developed a simple new blood test that can detect early-stage lung and prostate cancers as well as their recurrence.

Serum-free fatty acids and their metabolites in the blood can be used as screening biomarkers to help diagnose early stages of cancer and identify the probability of recovery and recurrence after tumour removal, researchers found.

"While cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide, diagnosis at the early stages of cancer remains challenging," said Jinbo Liu, researcher at Cleveland Clinic, and lead study author.

"In this study, we identified compounds that appear to be new screening biomarkers in cancer diagnosis and prognosis," Liu added.

The study looked at blood samples from 55 patients with lung cancer and 40 patients with prostate cancer and compared them to blood samples of people without cancer.

In a second phase of the study, blood was examined preoperatively from 24 patients scheduled for curative lung cancer surgery and again at six and 24 hours after the surgery.

The cancer patients had one- to six-times greater concentrations of serum-free fatty acids and their metabolites (the biomarker) in their blood than patients without cancer.

In the second phase, the serum-free fatty acid concentrations decreased by three to 10 times within 24 hours after tumour removal surgery.

While there is a blood test for prostate cancer, the prostate-specific antigen test, or PSA, has a high false-positive rate that results in many unnecessary biopsies and complications, according to Liu.

The test developed in this study could be a helpful additional blood test for prostate cancer.

"This is an exciting first step to having an uncomplicated way to detect early stages of lung, prostate and perhaps other cancers," said Daniel I Sessler, chair of the Outcomes Research Department at Cleveland Clinic.

"It could also be used to measure the success of tumour resection surgery, immediately after surgery and long-term for recurrence screening," Sessler added.

The study was presented at a meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) in San Francisco.

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