Why is there no blood test for lung cancer tumor markers?

Thomas A. Hensing, MD
Hematology & Oncology
There is no routine blood test to check for lung cancer. The problem is that if a given tumor secretes or makes that protein, then it’s a good marker. But if other tumors don’t have it, then it’s not a good marker. And I think particularly for lung cancer, it may not end up being one specific protein that we draw in a blood test, but it’s going to be panels of markers. Particularly for proteins, it’s going to be patterns of thousands of proteins that we might be able to get in a serum test called proteomic profiling, which I think will eventually bear fruit. I think that moving forward, particularly for patients with more advanced disease, this will be the technology that will allow us to get some of this genetic profiling done of a tumor through a blood test. But in terms of routine markers to follow somebody in surveillance, it’s not something that’s routinely done.

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