JUN 30, 2015 03:48 PM PDT

Detection by the Droplet

Two oncologists and a research scientist at the Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey, are working on a blood test for lung cancer. They are seeking an easier, more accurate, less invasive way to screen for the most common form of lung cancer, the most common cancer in men worldwide and the number one cancer killer in the United States. As published in the journal Oncotarget and reported in Science Daily, Ganepola A. P. Ganepola, M.D., FACS, medical director of research for Valley's Okonite Research Center and director of Valley's Center for Cancer Research and Genomic Medicine; Robert J. Korst, M.D., FACS, FCCP, medical director of Valley's Blumenthal Cancer Center; and David H. Chang, Ph.D., research scientist at the Center for Cancer Research and Genomic Medicine in Paramus, NJ, collaborated with the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia on the study, led by their scientist Qihong Huang, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis Program (http:///www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150629162652.htm).
A protein-based blood test for lung cancer could detect the disease faster without being invasive or expensive.
The researchers have discovered a protein called AKAP4 that circulates in the blood and appears to be more accurate than the current method of low-dose CT scans for detecting non-small cell lung cancer. Building on Dr. Ganepola's discovery of a biomarker for pancreatic cancer, the team combined with Wistar on the lung cancer study. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends an annual screening for patients 55 to 80 years old with a history of smoking and who are at high risk for developing lung cancer. Confirming the accuracy of the protein in a broader, more robust study could result in developing a simple blood test for annual screenings, rather than the less accurate, more expensive CT scan, which exposes patients to radiation.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women, accounting for about 13 percent of all new cancers. For 2015 ACS projects about 221,200 new cases of lung cancer and an estimated 158,040 deaths from lung cancer. Lung cancer accounts for about 27 percent of all cancer deaths and is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Lung cancer mainly occurs in older people. About 2 out of 3 people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 or older, with the average age at the time of diagnosis being about 70. Overall, the chance that a man will develop lung cancer in his lifetime is about 1 in 13; for a woman, the risk is about 1 in 16. These numbers include both smokers and non-smokers. For smokers the risk is much higher, while for non-smokers the risk is lower. Despite the very serious prognosis of lung cancer, some people with earlier stage cancers are cured. More than 430,000 people alive today have been diagnosed with lung cancer at some point (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/lungcancer-non-smallcell/detailedguide/non-small-cell-lung-cancer-key-statistics).

According to Dr. Ganepola, "Cancer is a dreadful disease which kills more than half of patients. The other half survives for only one reason -- if the disease is detected early enough to be eradicated completely. This is only possible if you have a test that can detect cancer non-invasively early enough so patients can benefit from early, rather than late-stage treatment. If the tumors are detected early enough, the survival rate can dramatically improve."
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
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