New test could give smokers early warning of lung cancer

Patients with lung tumours were found to have subtle abnormalities in the cells of their mouth, lungs and nose

Scientists have discovered that the way light reacts with human cells may indicate the likelihood of a person having lung cancer.

Patients with lung tumours were found to have subtle abnormalities in the cells of their mouth, lungs and nose.

Using swabs from patients’ cheeks, researchers from University College London found that cells of lung cancer patients reflected and refracted light slightly differently to those who did not have the disease.

The findings, which will be presented at the British Thoracic Society’s winter meeting today, were uncovered after three weeks of research in Oxford’s specialist underground Diamond Light Source facility. Experts said that a lung cancer test derived from the method would be non-invasive, and could help find patients who should be sent for more thorough CT scans to confirm a lung cancer diagnosis.

Professor Sam Janes, the senior author of the study, said: “Our vision for the future is that smokers could get a test at their doctors or in a pharmacy.”

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