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Research to Detect Lung Cancer in Non-Smokers

Cancer scientists under government and private sector collaboration have recently launched a research program to discover biomarkers for early detection of lung cancer in non-smokers. A biomarker is an indicator to check the progression of a disease or its response to treatment(s). The research program will be initially funded ($ 2 million) by Canary Foundation and National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Early Detection Research Network (EDRN).

Adi Gazdar, M.B.B.S., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas comments, “If you consider lung cancer in never smokers as a separate category, it ranks as the seventh most common cause of cancer deaths worldwide, even before cancers of the cervix, pancreas and prostate.”

It is estimated that out of 25 percent of lung cancer patients detected worldwide, 15 percent of men and 50 percent of women having lung cancer are non smokers. Study has shown that lung cancer in non smokers have different gene mutations, tissue structure and demographic profiles than smokers.

“Efforts to study the disease in never-smokers have been limited, and no screening tests or approaches for identifying individuals at increased risk are available today,” says Samir Hanash, M.D., Ph.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle. “This inability to recognize non-smokers who are at risk often leads to delays in diagnosis and results in cancer identification at an advanced stage, and this problem is what we’re tackling with this new study.”

Researchers from the five leading national research institutes will carry out extensive and highly coordinated research to study blood specimens, lung cancer cell lines and tissues by adopting different methods. It is said that the entire data will be saved in a single repository and integrated to find out the most effective biomarker. The entire project will serve as a pilot study, and if it is feasible, additional collaborators can be included.

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