It's a technology that's helping dramatically reduce lung cancer deaths. Low dose CT Scans have revolutionized early diagnosis and early treatment, but sometimes it's hard to tell if the abnormalities they detect are really cancer.
Now, researchers have discovered something in our blood that could make the scanner even better.
An Internet search may have saved Lawrence Moore's life. The article about low dose CT Scans detecting lung cancer motivated the former smoker to get one done. A mass was found, but it was inconclusive. Lawrence had to wait seven months and go through more scans before he was finally diagnosed with lung cancer. "You're sitting there sort of gnawing your fingernails and wondering what's happening."
Duke University Doctor Edward Patz says it happens to many patients and can mean more testing or invasive biopsies, but his team discovered three blood proteins. "Which we found to be, ah, higher in patients with cancer."
The doctor says when an abnormality is inconclusive images from a low dose CT Scan that show its size and the blood biomarkers, can help determine if lung cancer risk is high or low. The test can be completed in about a day and could help patients. "Avoid some unnecessary procedures and not delay treatment in other patients."
Lawrence had a portion of his lung removed within 24 hours of his diagnosis. "I was very glad it was over with."
He's cancer free and his biggest worry these days is watering his orchids.
The doctor tells us using the blood bio-markers and images together is 80 to 85-percent accurate in determining if an inconclusive abnormality is cancerous. It is FDA approved, will cost around 100 bucks, and is just about ready to be rolled out. Doctor Patz says the labs that will handle the test are currently getting their infrastructure ready for it.