Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Staveteig, Mindy


Lung cancer is responsible for the most cancer-related deaths worldwide (de Koning et a., 2020). While the implementation of low dose CT (LDCT) screening for high-risk individuals has been shown to improve outcomes and reduce mortality by 20%, there is still room for improvement in screening (Reduced Lung-Cancer Mortality with Low-Dose Computed Tomographic Screening,” 2011). Multi-cancer early detection (MCED) tests aim to detect earlystage cancer with the goal of improving treatment outcomes. This technology works by combining plasma analysis for cell-free DNA and methylation patterns with artificial intelligence to detect malignancies and predict tumor origin sites. The purpose of this systemic literature review is to assess the rising potential of MCED for screening and early detection of lung cancer compared to LDCT. This review utilizes searches of PubMed and ClinicalKey using both Mesh terms and key terms. A total of 14 articles published over the last 20 years were included for analysis. These articles include peer reviewed, case-controlled studies, observational studies, and prospective studies utilizing modeling. The results of this review indicate that MCED has a higher specificity than LDCT resulting in significantly less false positives, however, the sensitivity of MCED for detecting lung cancer is not consistently high enough to replace LDCT. At this time, LDCT remains the gold standard for screening and early detection of lung cancer and should continue to be utilized in clinical practice. This study focused exclusively on lung cancer, but MCED has the capability to detect more than 50 types of cancer, many without a current screening. Further research should be conducted to explore the role of MCED as an adjunct to traditional cancer screenings.