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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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.