Early detection of lung cancer: Clinical perspectives of recent advances in biology and radiology

F. R. Hirsch, W. A. Franklin, A. F. Gazdar, Jr Bunn P.A.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

347 Scopus citations


Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in developed countries. The prognosis is poor, with less than 15% of patients surviving 5 years after diagnosis. The poor prognosis is attributable to lack of efficient diagnostic methods for early detection and lack of successful treatment for metastatic disease. Most patients (>75%) present with stage III or IV disease and are rarely curable with current therapies. Within the last decade, rapid advances in molecular biology, pathology, bronchology, and radiology have provided a rational basis for improving outcome. These advancements have led to a better documentation of morphological changes in the bronchial epithelium before development of clinical evident invasive carcinomas. This has changed our concept of lung carcinogenesis and emphasized the multistep carcinogenesis approach on several levels. Combined with the technical developments in bronchoscopic techniques, e.g., laser-induced fluorescence endoscope (LIFE) bronchoscopy, we now have improved methods to localize preinvasive and early-invasive bronchial lesions. With the LIFE bronchoscope, a new morphological entity (angiogenic squamous dysplasia) has been recognized, which might be an important biomarker and target for antiangiogenic chemopreventive agents. To reduce the mortality of lung cancer, these new technologies have been taken into the clinic in different scientific settings. The use of low-dose spiral computed tomography in the screening of a high-risk population has demonstrated the possibility of diagnosing small peripheral tumors that are not seen on conventional X-ray. A shift in the therapeutic paradigm from targeting advanced clinically manifest lung cancer toward asymptomatic preinvasive and early-invasive cancer is occurring. The present article reviews the recent advances in the diagnosis of preinvasive and early-invasive cancer to identify biomarkers for early detection of lung cancer and for chemoprevention studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-22
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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