(HealthDay News) — Serum fatty acids and their metabolites may be useful screening biomarkers in lung and prostate cancer, and useful for evaluating prognosis and cancer recurrence after potentially curative surgery, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, held from Oct. 12 to 16 in San Francisco.

Jinbo Liu, M.D., from the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues propensity matched serum samples from 55 patients with lung cancer and 40 patients with prostate cancer with samples from 131 similar pulmonary patients without known cancer. For 24 patients scheduled for potentially curative lung cancer surgery, serum was sampled preoperatively and at six and 24 hours postoperatively. Mass spectrometry was used to analyze serum phospholipids, fatty acids, and fatty acid oxidative products.

The researchers found that, compared with patients without cancer, those patients with lung or prostate cancer had a one- to six-fold increase in serum free fatty acids and their metabolites (hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids and hydroxyoctadecadienes). Compared with controls, for patients with lung cancer and prostate cancer, the areas under the receiver operating characteristics curve ranged from 0.71 to 0.82 and 0.71 to 0.88, respectively. Serum free fatty acid concentrations decreased three- to 10-fold in just 24 hours after tumor resection.

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“While cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide, diagnosis at the early stages of cancer remains challenging,” Liu said in a statement. “In this study, we identified compounds that appear to be new screening biomarkers in cancer diagnosis and prognosis.”