A new way to detect lung cancer early

IDH1 – is this finally the blood test we have all been waiting for in order to find Lung Cancers early?
In a recent paper in the journal Clincal Cancer Research Jie He, MD, PhD of the Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, China reported that a protein in the blood called, IDH1, may indeed be a great new blood test we can use to find lung cancers early. A “biomarker” is a substance – such as a protein – in the blood which may give us a clue that a disease is present in the body of the person who has this protein in their blood.

Dr. He and colleagues at the Laboratory of Thoracic Surgery at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences collected blood samples from 943 patients WITH lung cancer and 479 people WITHOUT lung cancer and compared the blood levels of IDH1 in both the patients with lung cancer and the persons without lung cancer.
Dr. He’s team’s findings were that the patients with a type of lung cancer known as Adenocarcinomas had almost 3x higher blood levels of IDH1 than people without lung cancer. They also discovered that patients with a type of lung cancer known as a Squamous Cell lung cancers had almost 2 1/2 times higher blood levels of IDH1 than people without lung cancer.

What this means is that we can conceive the thought that we could take people who have smoked cigarettes for a long time and, if we suspect that they may have lung cancer, draw their blood and study their blood to see if we find IDH1 in their blood. If we do, as we will see below, we can then re-draw their blood and run tests for other blood markers known as CEA, Cyfra21-1 and CA125 and if the person who has smoked cigarettes for many years and who we suspect may have lung cancer has high blood levels of ALL 4 of these biomarkers, we should then have a very high suspicion that this person may indeed have a lung cancer – even if we still can’t see one in his or her chest x ray.

The combination of measuring IDH1 along with other biomarkers in the blood may increase the ability of IDH1 to find lung cancers early: Dr. He and his team further noted that if they combined the detection of IDH1 with the detection of other biomarkers such as CEA, Cyfra21-1 and CA125, the ability to detect cancer versus a false positive increased. This means that the combination of all of these biomarker tests together was better than just measuring IDH1 by itself. On top of that, by combining the detection of IDH1 with these other, more familiar and known biomarkers, the team was able to get a sense of the TYPE of non-small cell lung cancer which was being detected such as Adenocarcinoma versus Squamous Cell carcinoma. This could truly be a wonderful new development if further testing proves that it is indeed as good as it seems.

We do not know if IDH1 – or its combination with other biomarkers such as CEA, Cyfra21-1 and CA125 is the final answer in allowing us to find lung cancers early; but the key is that we – the scientific community – are getting closer to finding a blood test with which we can find lung cancer early. As the world’s – and the US – population grows older, we can unfortunately expect more and more lung cancers to be found. We all know that lung cancer is the most prominent and principle cause of cancer deaths IN MEN AND WOMEN worldwide (and in the USA). We as well know that if we can find lung cancers early, we are able to remove them with surgery and are thus able to very possibly cure the person with the lung cancer. Finding lung cancer early, therefore, can only mean one thing – decreased deaths due to lung cancer.

Till next we speak again,
Mark Sperry for

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Perpetual Inventory