New test to warn smokers about lung cancer

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A new test has been developed which could be used to warn smokers if they are at risk of developing lung cancer.

According to scientists, cells taken from the nose and mouth react in a different manner when placed under infrared light in those who are at risk of the disease.

The results achieved from these tests could aid in targeting CT scans and possibly result in earlier diagnosis and treatments for lung cancer patients.

Statistically, only 10% of patients survive for longer than five years after diagnosis. This is mainly attributable to a diagnosis at a late stage of the disease.

University College London’s Professor Sam Janes said that the vision for the future is for smokers to obtain tests at their doctor’s office or pharmacy. This will involve a simple swab in the nose or the mouth, which will be sent off for analysis. He said, the earlier the cancer is detected, the better the result.

Patients who are at risk of developing lung tumours may have abnormalities in all the cells in their lungs, nose and mouth. The abnormalities can be seen slightly by shining light on these cells as it reflects the light in a different manner, compared to people who do not suffer from lung cancer.

According to Professor Janes, exposure to tobacco smoke causes a different form of injury to cells in people who eventually develop lung cancer.

The scientists analysed samples from 76 smokers, of which half had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

The scientists are planning to increase the volume of their sample and monitor the participants over a period of time to determine how many eventually develop lung cancer.

Lung cancer is a malignant form of the disease and its symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing up blood and a persistent cough.

It is vital that early screening is undergone as certain types of lung cancer require surgical intervention in its earliest stages. If a diagnosis is received early, treatment can commence earlier and the chances of survival for the patients are increased enormously.

A study has issued warnings that lung cancer can remain dormant for up to two decades, before it becomes an aggressive form of the condition.

In excess of 40000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer annually, however less than one tenth survive for at least five years after receiving diagnoses.

Image Credit: Yale Rosen

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