Biomarkers in Lung Cancer Screening: a Narrative Review.


Although when used as a lung cancer screening tool low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) has demonstrated a significant reduction in lung cancer related mortality, it is not without pitfalls. The associated high false positive rate, inability to distinguish between benign and malignant nodules, cumulative radiation exposure, and resulting patient anxiety have all demonstrated the need for adjunctive testing in lung cancer screening. Current research focuses on developing liquid biomarkers to complement imaging as non-invasive lung cancer diagnostics. Biomarkers can be useful for both the early detection and diagnosis of disease, thereby decreasing the number of unnecessary radiologic tests performed. Biomarkers can stratify cancer risk to further enrich the screening population and augment existing risk prediction. Finally, biomarkers can be used to distinguish benign from malignant nodules in lung cancer screening. While many biomarkers require further validation studies, several, including autoantibodies and blood protein profiling, are available for clinical use. This paper describes the need for biomarkers as a lung cancer screening tool, both in terms of diagnosis and risk assessment. Additionally, this paper will discuss the goals of biomarker use, describe properties of a good biomarker, and review several of the most promising biomarkers currently being studied including autoantibodies, complement fragments, microRNA, blood proteins, circulating tumor DNA, and DNA methylation. Finally, we will describe future directions in the field of biomarker development.