UNC Logo Lung cancer seems to be the most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Inability to identify in the early stages itself may be a major drawback of this cancer. Scientists from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center suggest that the biomarker TCF21 aids in developing a potential screening test for early-stage lung cancer.

If the researchers are to be believed then, patient survival does not improve by screening tests like CT scans and serum markers. The transcription factor TCF21, is known as a protein binding to DNA. It may perfectly reproduce itself, allow cells to multiply and replace themselves consistently. In a process known as hypermethylation, these transcription factors do not appear to work efficiently. So disruption of cellular growth mechanisms possibly takes place, further triggering cancer.

During investigations researchers observed the TCF21 hypermethylation in 105 non-small-cell lung cancers of different stages and types. The results were approved after examining 300 cases with a tissue microarray. Kristy Richards, PhD,MD, lead investigator, and colleagues claim that more than 80 percent of the cancer cases demonstrate abnormal expression of the TCF21. So a screening tool can be supposedly developed by targeting this biomarker. Introduction of an accurate screening tool can possibly improve outcomes of surgery and other treatments for cancer patients.

The research was published in the journal Cancer.