Biomarkers in Lung Cancer Screening: Achievements, Promises, and Challenges

Luis M. Seijo, Nir Peled, Daniel Ajona, Mattia Boeri, John K. Field, Gabriella Sozzi, Ruben Pio, Javier J. Zulueta, Avrum Spira, Pierre P. Massion, Peter J. Mazzone, Luis M. Montuenga

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The present review is an update of the research and development efforts regarding the use of molecular biomarkers in the lung cancer screening setting. The two main unmet clinical needs, namely, the refinement of risk to improve the selection of individuals undergoing screening and the characterization of undetermined nodules found during the computed tomography–based screening process are the object of the biomarkers described in the present review. We first propose some principles to optimize lung cancer biomarker discovery projects. Then, we summarize the discovery and developmental status of currently promising molecular candidates, such as autoantibodies, complement fragments, microRNAs, circulating tumor DNA, DNA methylation, blood protein profiling, or RNA airway or nasal signatures. We also mention other emerging biomarkers or new technologies to follow, such as exhaled breath biomarkers, metabolomics, sputum cell imaging, genetic predisposition studies, and the integration of next-generation sequencing into study of circulating DNA. We also underline the importance of integrating different molecular technologies together with imaging, radiomics, and artificial intelligence. We list a number of completed, ongoing, or planned trials to show the clinical utility of molecular biomarkers. Finally, we comment on future research challenges in the field of biomarkers in the context of lung cancer screening and propose a design of a trial to test the clinical utility of one or several candidate biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-357
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Thoracic Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Biomarkers
  • Clinical utility
  • Lung cancer
  • Screening
  • Test validation
  • Trial design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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