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Genes Play Role in Prognosis With Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers

Age, gender, genetics affect odds of remaining recurrence-free, research shows

TUESDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. scientists have discovered there are genetic profiles that play a part in prognosis with non-small cell lung cancers, and those profiles differ depending on the age and gender of the patient.

The researchers analyzed genetic and clinical data from 787 patients who were divided into subgroups based on sex and age (below or above age 70). The findings are published in the Feb. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In those younger than 70, 25 percent of high-risk patients (those with the shortest recurrence-free survival) showed increased activation of a gene called Src, compared to 6 percent of low-risk patients. In addition, activation of tumor necrosis factor pathways (which are related to death of cells or tissue) was seen in 76 percent of high-risk patients and in 42 percent of low-risk patients.

Among patients aged 70 and older, high-risk patients showed increased activation of the wound healing pathways (40 percent vs. 24 percent) and invasiveness pathways (64 percent vs. 20 percent) compared to low-risk patients, the study authors reported.

The study also found gender differences in lung cancer biology. High-risk female patients had increased activation of the invasiveness and STAT3 gene pathways, while high-risk male patients had increased activation of the STAT3, tumor necrosis factor, wound healing and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathways. EGFR is a protein that promotes cell growth and multiplication.

"We believe our findings represent a [new] approach to defining clinically relevant cohorts of non-small cell lung cancer stratified by age and sex that are enriched for specific pathway activity and that would be more apt for therapeutic intervention when planning clinical trials with drugs that target specific pathway-related abnormalities or tumor biology," wrote William Mostertz, of Duke University, and colleagues.

"With genomic [tests] now being increasingly practical and clinically applicable, with turnaround times of five to seven days, we believe our findings . . . represent a step forward in defining pathway-driven cohorts of non-small cell lung cancer that likely explain the age- and sex-specific difference seen in non-small cell lung cancer," the researchers concluded.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about non-small cell lung cancer.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, news release, Feb. 9, 2010

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