Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women in Western nations, and is among the deadliest cancers with a 5-year survival rate of 15%. The high mortality caused by lung cancer is attributable to a late-stage diagnosis and the lack of effective treatments. So, it is crucial to identify new biomarkers that could function not only to detect lung cancer at an early stage but also to shed light on the molecular mechanisms that underlie cancer development and serve as the basis for the development of novel therapeutic strategies. Considering that DNA-based biomarkers for lung cancer showed inadequate sensitivity, specificity, and reproducibility, proteomics could represent a better tool for the identification of useful biomarkers and therapeutic targets for this cancer type. Among the proteomics technologies, the most powerful tool is mass spectrometry. In this review, we describe studies that use mass spectrometry-based proteomics technologies to analyze tumor proteins and peptides, which might represent new diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive markers for lung cancer. We focus in particular on those findings that hold promise to impact significantly on the clinical management of this disease.
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