Changes Inside the Nose May Signal Lung Cancer
According to a recent study, changes to cells in the lining of the nose—the nasal epithelium—could one day be used to detect lung cancer. Researchers discovered that these changes in gene activity are similar to those that occur in the lungs when cancer is present. This discovery could lead to a nasal swab to help diagnose lung cancer—possibly reducing the need for invasive biopsies.
Previous research indicated cells in the nasal epithelium and the lining of the tubes that bring air to the lungs—the bronchi—respond similarly to tobacco smoke. Cells in the bronchial epithelium can be used to distinguish smokers and former smokers with lung cancer from those with benign lung disease.
In this latest study, researchers identified 535 genes in the nasal epithelium that that had different activity patterns in people with lung cancer than in those with benign disease. Genetic changes to cells from the lining of the nose combined with information about clinical risk factors for lung cancer may diagnose the disease with up to 91 percent accuracy, according to researchers.
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