Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Promising Early Lung Cancer Detection

I went to a funeral of a dear patient today. I had taken care of her for 15 years. She was 72 years old, she was married for 54 years, and she had one son. She loved to play golf, to over-decorate the house for the holidays, and to spend time with her family. But she also loved to smoke her cigarettes despite our many discussions about the risks of smoking.

She had been fine until 3 months ago when she presented with abdominal pain. Shortly thereafter she was diagnosed with widespread lung cancer that was growing by the day. Six weeks is all that she had from the time of her lung biopsy to her death.

Lung cancer scares me because I know that no matter how complete a physical exam or how many tests that I perform, there is a chance that it may still be awaiting my patient. Lung cancer kills more people around the world than any other cancer. 10 million new lung cancer diagnoses are made each year. Most of these cases are diagnosed too late in the course for effective treatment. Over three quarters of all lung-cancer patients are/were long-term regular smokers. The only means of diagnosing lung cancer is by chest xray or chest CT scan. Neither of these tests is effective in detecting the cancer at an early stage.

A recent study in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, however, has concluded that a blood test may be able to predict early non-small cell lung cancer with an accuracy rate of 87%. The cancer may be present 3-5 years before it is detected on the imaging tests. Although it is too late for this particular patient, there is promise that others may have a chance of earlier detection and therefore of cure of lung cancer by a simple blood test. More studies will be needed to better define the role of this technology in clinical context.


daun1919 said...

I'm 25 years old and a smoker. I smoke 1 box of 20 cigarettes a day. I have a questions, how many years of smoking usually from the previous case that a smoker get the lung cancer?

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D.Alexander said...

Low Level Cadmium Exposure Linked To Lung Disease...Science Daily reported on August 20 that new research suggests that cadmium is one of the critical ingredients causing emphysema, and even low-level exposure attained through second-hand smoke and other means may also increase the chance of developing lung disease. http://www.chantixhome.com/

Pooja said...

Thanks for the information. There are number of people dying due to lung cancer. The main cause of lung cancer is smoking. Males are more prone to this disease than compared to women. There are many symptoms of lung cancer like muscle weakness, skin rashes, fatigue, weight loss and a decrease in sodium levels. It is very important to know the symptoms of lung cancer and if diagnoised take proper treatment. There are many treatments available for lung cancer. For more information refer lung cancer symptoms