Research Summary: Blood Tests for the Early Detection of Lung Cancer

Grant Recipient: Dr. Samir Hanash
Title of Project:
Blood Tests for the Early Detection of Lung Cancer
Sponsoring Institution:
Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center

Improvements in outcomes for cervix cancer and bowel cancer provide support for the concept that early diagnosis has the greatest promise to improve cancer outcomes. Unfortunately our improved understanding of the molecular basis of lung cancer has not translated into effective means for early detection. There is at the present time a substantial need for simple but accurate non-invasive tests to detect lung cancer before it is advanced to the point that treatment is rendered ineffective. Blood based biomarker tests provide an ideal approach given that asymptomatic subjects have blood drawn at the time of routine check-ups. The public health impact of the development of effective blood based tests for the detection of lung cancer are quite substantial, given the millions of subjects who are at risk for lung cancer due to current smoking or due to a past history of smoking. Additionally there is a need to develop tests to identify subjects at risk for developing lung cancer who are never-smokers given that never smokers with lung cancer represent some 15% of cases and lung cancer among never smokers is number 7 on the top ten list of cancer killers. This two-year program of research builds on the identification of candidate markers for lung cancer by a team of three PI’s at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center with expertise in Thoracic Oncology, Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, and Molecular Diagnostics. Our goals are to develop blood tests to 1- identify never smoker subjects at increased risk of developing lung cancer (C. Li, PI); 2- detect lung cancer before onset of symptoms (G. Goodman, PI); and 3- distinguish between benign and malignant lesions identified by CT scans (S. Hanash, PI). If successful this research program will result in a paradigm shift in our approach to lung cancer screening.