Dr. David Wishart, funded by the Canadian Cancer Society, is developing a liquid biopsy able to detect lung cancer-specific chemicals in patients. (Canadian Cancer Society)

Dr. David Wishart, funded by the Canadian Cancer Society, is developing a liquid biopsy able to detect lung cancer-specific chemicals in patients. (Canadian Cancer Society)

Canadian researchers developing blood test to detect lung cancer early and save lives

‘If lung cancer is detected early then treatment outcomes improve enormously,’ says Dr. David Wishart

Detecting the early stages of lung cancer could soon be as simple as a blood test.

That’s because researchers – led by Dr. David Wishart and funded by the Canadian Cancer Society – are developing a liquid biopsy able to detect lung cancer-specific chemicals in patients.

“Currently those with lung cancer are most often diagnosed in the later stages, usually stage 3 or 4, when treatment outcomes are poor,” Wishart said.

“If lung cancer is detected early then treatment outcomes improve enormously.”

If successful, the project could save lives. In Canada, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death and the most commonly diagnosed form of the disease.

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Approximately half of all lung cancer cases are likely to be diagnosed at stage 4 when the patient’s 3-year survival rate is as low as five per cent. If detected at stage 1, survival rates rise 66 per cent.

Current methods for lung cancer screening are expensive and not always accessible, Wishart stressed.

“We are coming up with a whole variety of novel, cheap and easy ways to detect early-stage cancer using only metabolites found in blood or urine,” he said.

The project is one of 27 funded by Spark Grants, a joint $4-million research initiative from the Canadian Cancer Society and its partners.

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sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

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