New Test to Detect Early Stage Lung Cancer and Treatment Can Save Millions of Lives
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New Test to Detect Early Stage Lung Cancer and Treatment Can Save Millions of Lives

We knew that smoking is linked to lung cancer, but until recently scientists were not able to predict which smoker was at the highest risk for developing the disease. Now, it may be possible to pinpoint this high-risk group through measuring a genetic change in the windpipe.

We knew that smoking is linked to lung cancer, but until recently scientists were not able to predict which smoker was at the highest risk for developing the disease. Now, it may be possible to pinpoint this high-risk group through measuring a genetic change in the windpipe.

The researchers have discovered a group of genes, which are not only prominent in lung cancer, but are also active in people who are on the verge of developing lung cancer.

For the purpose of the research, the scientists collected epithelial cells from the lining of the respiratory tract (windpipe) of 129 current and former smokers. They used a bronchoscopy, which is a tube with a camera attached that is inserted down the throat to look for cancer cells. Only in this particular research they were looking higher up in the trachea for signs of pre cancer cells. They analyzed the data through a system called the microarray genetic analysis.

What they found was quite a bit of gene activity in the PI3K pathway that is also present in smokers as opposed to non-smokers. The researchers were not surprised because the activity in P13K pathway is present in lung cancer. If these genes are overactive they can stimulate cell development and tumors. The researchers also reported in Science Translational Medicine that the patients who had pre cancerous cells in the lungs also had these genes in their trachea.

This discovery is wonderful but not complete. It still does not indicate if the over activity in the P13K pathways can predict all future lung cancers, or even if people who do not have this over activity are excluded from contracting lung cancer at this time. Yet, it is a step in the right direction. Early detection is crucial. Lung cancer is normally detected in the late states when there is no known cure.

These researchers say there is a gene test that is being developed to spot these genes and to facilitate the earliest and most effective treatment. Dr. Avrum Spira, a critical care physician at Boston Medical Center, and his team are also working on an experimental treatment to halt the growth and development of the pre cancerous cells.

Currently lung cancer is the leading cancer in Canada for both men and women.

Montrealers smokers can obtain information and or treatment through the:

Montreal Chest Institute Lung Program

 

Sources:

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20100407/cancer_test_100407/20100408?hub=Health

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