A recent clinical trial examining whether a blood test can rule out lung cancer found that a blood test used to measure protein levels was 98% effective in distinguishing malignant from benign tumors in the lungs. Doctors hope that someday they will be able to give a lung cancer diagnosis based solely on the results of a blood test. However, the blood tests method that shows lung cancer is still in its infancy and is not the only basis for a diagnosis.
When testing for lung cancer, blood tests are one component to determine a diagnosis. Doctors take a multi-pronged approach to detecting and diagnosing lung cancer. The three primary methods of diagnosis include imaging tests, sputum cytology, and biopsies.
Each of these tests provides doctors with different information that allows them to determine the unique characteristics of your cells, provide you with a prognosis, and administer treatment.
What a Blood Test Can Do
Unless your doctor is specifically testing for a certain type of blood cancer, such as leukemia or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, blood tests cannot show lung cancer. However, the results can give your doctor a unique perspective on how well your organs are functioning. If there are abnormal results, this can be an indicator of cancer in the body.
Examples of cancer blood tests that may help a doctor make a cancer diagnosis include:
- Complete blood count (CBC). This measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in your blood. If the test points to an imbalance, this may be an indicator of cancer.
- Liver function tests (LFTs). These tests measure the level of enzymes and proteins made or cleared by the liver. More importantly, these tests look for low levels of albumin, which are proteins in the blood that can be lowered by some types of cancer.
- Tumor markers blood test. Tumor markers are anything present or produced by cancerous blood cells that can provide information about how cancer is affecting a person’s health. These types of proteins are in the blood, urine, and other body tissues.
A person’s symptoms or medical history will determine what type of blood test is necessary for an accurate diagnosis. While these blood tests are used to paint an overall picture of one’s health, they are also used in conjunction with scanning, testing phlegm, and other medical examinations. Blood testing can prove especially helpful when testing for breast, prostate, or colon cancer.
Types of Lung Cancer
The results of your medical test results will allow your doctor to either dismiss the possibility of lung cancer or diagnose you with one of two major types.
- Small cell lung cancer. This type of cancer is where malignant cells form in the lung tissue. This is an aggressive form of cancer that can spread very quickly and is attributed to heavy smoking.
- Non-small cell lung cancer. This is a catch-all term for several types of lung cancers that have similar traits. These cancers include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.
Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer in the United States and is linked to about 80% to 90% of all lung cancer fatalities. Talk to a medical professional if you or a loved one is suffering from symptoms that may be related to lung cancer and you are considering taking blood tests that show lung cancer.
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Asbestos Exposure and Lung Cancer
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that has been used in building materials for decades. It was in widespread use until the 1970s when large numbers of people began reporting illnesses related to asbestos exposure and filed mass torts against the companies who manufactured it.
Some of the common areas of the home where asbestos may be found include:
- Insulation in attics, walls, and around heat-emitting devices such as furnaces and stoves
- Vinyl flooring and other vinyl laminates
- Some roofing and shingles
- Heat resistant fabrics
- Around pipes, especially those that emit heat
- In textured paint
Asbestos is dangerous when it is inhaled or swallowed. These fibers can cause scarring in the lungs that can lead to the development of mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other asbestos-related lung cancers. Some jobs put their employees at risk for exposure more so than others. These include construction workers, demolition crews, and automobile mechanics.
Complications from asbestos exposure have a latency period of anywhere from 20 to 40 years before symptoms pointing to lung cancer appear. Speaking with a medical professional about your exposure to asbestos can help catch any diseases early on and begin the process of administering medical treatment.
Contact Our Law Firm Today
If you or a loved one has received a lung cancer diagnosis because of exposure to asbestos, you have the right to seek financial compensation for your losses.
Call our team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 794-0444 to speak to a member of our team about your case. Our clients pay nothing up front, nothing out of pocket, and nothing unless we secure a judgment or settlement.