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Detection Of Lung Cancer In Nonsmokers

March 22, 2017

Detection of Lung Cancer in Non-Smokers

Today, cancer scientists from both government and private sectors launched a research partnership to find biomarkers for lung cancer that develops in people who have never smoked.  The Canary Foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds research in early cancer detection, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, are sponsoring a multi-institutional effort. 

Research has shown that lung cancer in people who have never smoked differs in many ways from the disease in smokers.  Non-smokers with lung cancer have different tumor tissue structure, gene mutations, and demographic profiles than smokers with lung cancer.  The research studies are designed to create a better understanding of the biology of lung cancer and to develop a test to detect early-stage lung cancer in lifetime nonsmokers. 

Using lung cancer cell lines, tissue, and blood specimens, researchers at five of the nation’s leading research institutions will undertake a coordinated approach to biomarker discovery using their expertise to study the same sets of specimens by different methods. The researchers will deposit the data in a single repository, and integrate the results to find the most promising biomarkers. Because of this design, this project will also serve as a pilot study to demonstrate the feasibility of the approach and the ability to integrate the data across different platforms. If it is successful, the researchers plan to open the project to additional collaborators from the NCI’s Early Detection Research Network (EDRN).

It is estimated that as many as 25% of all lung cancers worldwide (15% of those in men and 50% of those in women) are not attributable to smoking.  The inability to recognize non-smokers who are at risk often leads to delays in diagnosis and results in cancer identification at an advanced stage.

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