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Blood test may detect lung cancer, study shows

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Staff Writer | February 14, 2019
Lung cancer cells
Medicine   Lung cancer cells

Recent research by British scientists suggests that analysing blood levels of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) could improve early detection of lung cancer, published Wednesday in the journal Disease Models and Mechanisms.

During the study, experts from the Toxicology Unit of the British Medical Research Council used mice with a mutation in a gene called KRAS to model the precancerous stages of lung cancer.

The researchers took regular computed tomography scans, to monitor the development of small precancerous lung tumors in rodents.

The team detected that mice with cancerous lung tumors had higher levels of circulating DNA compared to healthy animals, and that the levels of DNA released from cancerous tumors in the blood correlated with the size of tumors seen on CT scans.

After analyzing the DNA in circulation to determine the presence of the precise KRAS mutation that caused the tumors to develop, the specialists discovered that in the latter stages of tumor development where the tumor was still precancerous, the KRAS mutation could still be detected in the circulating DNA.

The study's lead author, Miguel Martins, believes that similar studies should be done on mice with precancerous lesions in other tissues to see if circulating DNA has potential use in early detection of disease in patients.

Lung cancer is the number one cause of death related to this disease in the world, mainly due to difficulties in detecting it at an early stage.

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