A new study titled “The Analysis of Small Molecule Metabolite Profiles in the Blood as a Biomarker of Lung Cancer”, published in the Chest journal, showed that patients suffering with stage I to stage III non-small cell lung cancer have different metabolite profiles in their blood when compared to patients who are at risk but do not have lung cancer.
A team of researchers at the Cleveland Clinic analyzed the biopsy-derived serum of 284 patients who were diagnosed with untreated stage I-III non-small cell cancer (44% at stage I, 17% at stage II, and 39% at stage III). Additionally, serum from patients considered to be at risk was used as control, and matched to the study subjects according to age, gender, smoking history, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lipid profile.
The results demonstrated that the patient’s mean age was of 67 years, and almost half (48%) were female.
A total of 534 metabolites were identified in 8 metabolite super-pathways and 73 sub-pathways. Importantly, 149 metabolites had a significantly different concentration in cancer and control groups. Also, there was a decrease in the levels of phenolic compounds, an increase in transulfuration pathway activity, and an increase in fatty acid levels.
“Our study results showed that patients with lung cancer have altered metabolic processes,” Peter J. Mazzone, MD, FCCP, Director of the Lung Cancer Program for the Respiratory Institute at Cleveland Clinic, said in a press release. “This information could lead to the development of a diagnostic biomarker for early detection of lung cancer.”
Lung cancer is considered the main cause of cancer death in the US, with more people dying from this malignancy than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.
The importance of an early diagnosis cannot be understated, as it is key to improve the current poor survival rates.
The results from this study suggest there may be a possibility of diagnosing the disease, at an early stage, using only a simple blood sample.