Lung cancer: Progress and Future Directions

Lung cancer: Progress and Future Directions

January 14, 2019 Cancer and telomeres

Lung cancer (LC) is one of the most common cancers in both sexes. It is also one of the deadliest forms of cancer in the world. There were 2 million new cases in 2018 (World Cancer Research Fund & American Institute for Cancer Research)

In 2015, the new World Health Organization (WHO) classification of lung tumors was published. There are two main forms of lung cancer – small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Approximately 80% of lung cancer cases are NSCLC, which have diverse molecular-biological features and clinical course forms of the disease: adenocarcinoma, adenosquamous-carcinoma, large cell carcinoma and large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma.

Smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer. Other risk factors for lung cancer include being exposed to secondhand smoke, having a family history of lung cancer, being treated with radiation therapy to the breast or chest, exposure to asbestos, chromium, nickel, arsenic, soot, or tar in the workplace, and exposure to radon. When smoking is combined with other risk factors, the risk of lung cancer is increased.

Currently, lung cancer is detected in the late stages-due to such symptoms as coughing, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, and chest pains. Unfortunately, the early stages of this disease are detected only by accident. Chest radiography and computer tomography are the most commonly used methods for lung cancer diagnosis, but in this cases the diagnosis is already in advanced stages of the disease. In recent years, great efforts have been made in the search for new biomarkers, the most promising ones have been: 

  • Circulating biomarkers of Carcinogenesis

  • Proteomic-Based Lung Cancer Biomarker

  • Protein Biomarkers Used in Lung Cancer Diagnosis

  • Biomarkers of Different histological Lung Cancer types. Focus in NSCLC:

    • Adenocarcinoma. Its diagnosis is often based on identification of molecular markers of mutation, in particular EGFR, ERCC, RRM, KRAS, TS, EML4-Alk and PSF3

    • Squamous Lung Cancer. The most distinctive features of squamous lung cancer is high levels of fragmented cytokeratin CK-19.

Although panels of various biomarkers have been recently applied and improves early lung cancer detection, there is a need for additional methods for early diagnosis, it is essential to discover novel highly sensitive and specific biomarkers.

Thanks to ONCOCHECK, Life Length has had the opportunity to analyze a cohort of patients at risk of lung cancer to investigate the contribution of telomere associated variables to early detection of the disease. So far 125 patients have been recruited and the initial data looks very promising and surely grant the use of these variables as a biomarker for early detection of lung cancer. Completing the ongoing study as well as future clinical efficacy studies will be necessary to prove the relationship between telomere length and the risk of lung cancer.

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