Lung Cancer Biomarkers

Adv Clin Chem. 2015:72:107-70. doi: 10.1016/bs.acc.2015.07.003. Epub 2015 Sep 3.


Lung cancer is the most frequently occurring cancer in the world and continually leads in mortality among cancers. The overall 5-year survival rate for lung cancer has risen only 4% (from 12% to 16%) over the past 4 decades, and late diagnosis is a major obstacle in improving lung cancer prognosis. Survival of patients undergoing lung resection is greater than 80%, suggesting that early detection and diagnosis of cancers before they become inoperable and lethal will greatly improve mortality. Lung cancer biomarkers can be used for screening, detection, diagnosis, prognosis, prediction, stratification, therapy response monitoring, and so on. This review focuses on noninvasive diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers. For that purpose, our discussion in this review will focus on biological fluid-based biomarkers. The body fluids include blood (serum or plasma), sputum, saliva, BAL, pleural effusion, and VOC. Since it is rich in different cellular and molecular elements and is one of the most convenient and routine clinical procedures, serum or plasma is the main source for the development and validation of many noninvasive biomarkers. In terms of molecular aspects, the most widely validated ones are proteins, some of which are used in the clinical sector, though in limited accessory purposes. We will also discuss the lung cancer (protein) biomarkers in clinical trials and currently in the validation phase with hundreds of samples. After proteins, we will discuss microRNAs, methylated DNA, and circulating tumor cells, which are being vigorously developed and validated as potential lung cancer biomarkers. The main aim of this review is to provide researchers and clinicians with an understanding of the potential noninvasive lung cancer biomarkers in biological fluids that have recently been discovered.

Keywords: Circulating tumor cells; Clinical trials; Diagnosis; Lung cancer biomarkers; Methylated DNAs; Prediction; Prognosis; Proteome; miRNAs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / blood
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating


  • Biomarkers, Tumor