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Blood tests at time of lung cancer diagnosis may speed up treatment

By
Ryan Maass
Biopsy results can take weeks or months, but researchers say administering blood tests to lung cancer patients at the time of diagnosis can inform treatment decisions. Photo by the U.S. Navy
Biopsy results can take weeks or months, but researchers say administering blood tests to lung cancer patients at the time of diagnosis can inform treatment decisions. Photo by the U.S. Navy

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Administering blood tests to lung cancer patients at the time of diagnosis may be able to hasten treatment decisions, researchers suggest in a new study.

The research, published in the American College of Chest Physicians journal CHEST, was conducted by scientists with Gundersen Health System in Wisconsin. The authors stress the effectiveness of cancer treatment is dependent on timely information, and blood tests are an important reference.

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"Lung cancer often goes undiagnosed until more advanced stages. Treatment decisions need to be made as quickly as possible," lead author Dr. Jennifer Mattingly said in a press release. "Waiting for test results on biopsy material to determine the correct course of action can delay treatment for several weeks, sometimes months."

During the study, researchers examined 20 patients, 17 of whom were diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. Investigators used GeneStrat genomic test to target specific cancer mutations, and a VeriStrat proteomic test to provide prognostic information. The results were available within 72 hours, and were used to make treatment decisions and improve prognostic conversations with patients.

"The rapid and accurate results of these tests significantly decreases the wait time between diagnosis and treatment," Mattingly added.

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Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. There are various approaches to treat the disease, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted drug therapy. The research team plans to discuss more of its recent findings on making treatment quicker in late October at the CHEST Annual Meeting 2016 in Los Angeles.

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