November 11, 2010

Lung Cancer: A Different Disease For Smokers Vs. Never-Smokers

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Lung cancer, the most common cause of cancer-related death in men and women, is responsible for 1.3 million deaths worldwide annually.  The most common cause of lung cancer is long-term exposure to tobacco smoke, however, the occurrence of lung cancer in never-smokers accounts for as many as 15 percent of cases.  In a pilot study, different DNA alterations in the tumor genomes were found in those who smoke and never smoked, which may represent two different types of diseases.

"Lung cancer in never-smokers should be studied as a separate group," which Kelsie Thu, a Ph.D. candidate at the BC Cancer Research Center in Vancouver, Canada, was quoted as saying.  Along with her colleagues, Thu investigated the biology of lung cancer to determine how it is different in 30 patients who never smoked versus 53 patients who were current or former smokers. Ultimately, their goal was to improve the current understanding of lung cancer development.

"A better understanding of the biology underlying lung cancer development will lead to improved detection and therapeutic strategies, and ultimately, will result in improved patient prognosis," Thu added.

These crusaders against cancer, using genomic technologies -- specializing in the development of large scale nucleic acid synthesis apparatus and Software for the pharmaceutical and drug discovery -- found regions of the DNA that were altered in both smoker as well as never-smoker groups, in addition to regions of DNA altered preferentially in one group.

Never-smoker tumor genomes had more DNA alterations that smokers altogether, despite having more epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations.  These results suggest that there may be more genomic instability in never-smoker lung tumors, and furthermore develop through different molecular mechanisms, according to Thu.

"Hopefully, our findings will stimulate the research community to further investigate the differences between lung cancer in these two cohorts, which could ultimately lead to the discovery of novel molecular targets for the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer in never-smokers," Thu concluded.

SOURCE: The Ninth Annual AACR Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, 7 "“ 10 November 2010