It could be a milestone in treating lung cancer. Authors of a groundbreaking study say a new screening technique can predict which smokers will eventually develop lethal lung cancers. What’s more, once they identify the most cancer-prone smokers, a new drug could prevent the disease from progressing. This, according to research published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The researchers say 10 to 20 per cent of smokers will develop lung cancer, and about three-quarters of them show a genetic pathway that does not exist in smokers who will not get the lethal ailment. They say the new screening technique can pick up this genetic mechanism – and it can do so at cancer’s earliest stage, or even before the disease develops.
The screen uses cells swabbed from a smoker’s windpipe in an outpatient procedure that can be completed in 10 minutes.
Right now there is no reliable way to find lung cancer early, it’s usually diagnosed at a very late stage. This screening technique should be available within the next year.