LONDON, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- Early signs of lung cancer could be diagnosed using a simple blood test, according a new discovery published by British scientists on Tuesday.
Early detection of lung cancer has been shown to save lives, but available methods for screening at-risk people are either too costly or involve invasive procedures.
Writing in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at University of York reported that they found an altered form of a protein called Ciz1 was present in lung cancers, even when at a very early stage.
"The Ciz1 protein is involved in cell growth. Altered forms of this protein are present in cancer cells, and one specific form is prevalent in lung cancers," said Dr. Dawn Coverley from the University of York.
"Surprisingly, this variant-Ciz1 somehow gets into the blood stream and once there appears to be very stable. This means that by looking for variant Ciz1 in the blood we can pick out people who have small tumours in their lungs, without the need to take a biopsy or undergo surgery," she added.
She said the method will offer doctors an alternative way to test whether an abnormal growth is cancerous. For patients, it means many can avoid invasive diagnostic procedures.
The team is now translating the research into a test suitable for use in hospital diagnostic laboratories.