Research ArticlesLung Disease

A Blood-Based Proteomic Classifier for the Molecular Characterization of Pulmonary Nodules

Science Translational Medicine  16 Oct 2013:
Vol. 5, Issue 207, pp. 207ra142
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3007013

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Avoiding Unnecessary Surgery

Physicians have difficulty distinguishing early-stage malignant lung cancers from benign lung nodules. As a result, many patients with benign lung nodules undergo unnecessary, invasive, and costly medical procedures such as biopsy and surgery. Li et al. have developed and validated a noninvasive blood-based protein panel to identify benign lung nodules. They applied an advanced molecular technology, called multiple reaction monitoring mass spectrometry, to systematically evaluate the potential roles of 371 blood proteins in lung cancer. The authors discovered a panel of 13 proteins that was able to distinguish benign lung nodules from early-stage lung cancers in a clinical study. They then validated the performance of the panel in a second clinical study with new patients. The protein panel provided insightful information on the disease status of lung nodules beyond the clinical risk factors currently used by physicians. By measuring protein concentrations in blood samples, the protein panel can be used to rescue patients with benign lung nodules from unnecessary invasive procedures.