Lung Cancer Screening

MD Anderson’s Lung Cancer Blood Test

MD Anderson researchers developed a blood and risk-based test that could improve how we identify lung cancer screening candidates, potentially bringing more high-risk patients into screening while keeping more low-risk patients out.

The Blood + Risk Test – The test combines MD Anderson’s blood-based protein biomarker test with a lung cancer risk model that analyzes patient smoking history (the PLCOm2012 model). This combined test would be used to identify patients who should enroll in LD-CT screening programs.

The Study – MD Anderson researchers used the test to analyze 10k blood samples from 2,745 people with a +10 pack-year smoking history (including 1,299 samples from 552 people who developed cancer), finding that the blood + risk test:

  • Identified 105 of the 119 people diagnosed with cancer within one year
  • Beat the USPSTF 2021 criteria’s sensitivity (88.4% vs. 78.5%) and specificity (56.2% vs. 49.3%)
  • Identified 9.2% more lung cancer cases than the USPSTF criteria
  • Referred 13.7% fewer unnecessary screening patients than the USPSTF criteria

Blood-Based Momentum – Blood-based tests appear to be gaining momentum as a first-line cancer screening method, as the last 6 months brought a promising new MGH lung cancer test and a key validation milestone for the multi-cancer early detection blood test (MCED; detects 50 types of cancer).

The Takeaway – Although there’s still more research to be done, blood-based tests could bring more high-risk patients into LD-CT lung cancer screening programs, while reducing screening participation among patients who don’t actually need it. In other words, blood tests like these could address lung cancer screening’s two biggest challenges.

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-- The Imaging Wire team