J Korean Med Assoc.  2021 Jan;64(1):66-74. 10.5124/jkma.2021.64.1.66.

Biomarkers and diagnostic tools for lung cancer

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Pathology, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in developing to advanced countries worldwide. The incidence rate of lung cancer in Korea has been increasing steadily since 1997. Statistics show that in 2017 alone, the incidence and mortality rates for lung cancer were 52.7 and 34.8 per 100,000 people, respectively, accounting for the highest cause of cancer death in Korea. The process of accurately diagnosing lung cancer consists of several steps, starting with the discovery of pulmonary nodule(s) via a cancer screening test or various other methods followed by the collection of cells or tissues and the identification of target molecules. Thereafter, staging and the development of a therapeutic plan lead to improved clinical outcomes. After the completion of a pilot study, a nationwide lung cancer screening program was introduced in Korea; since 2019, this program has targeted population at high risk for lung cancer: men and women aged 54 to 74 years who had a smoking history of 30 pack-years or more. The frequency of detection of pulmonary nodules is increasing in proportion to the public interest in health and economic growth. In this review, we present diagnostic techniques and biomarkers that are widely used in the medical field in the hope that such information would benefit clinical practice.


Lung neoplasms; Screening; Diagnosis; Biomarkers; Liquid biopsy
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