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New technique detects specific chromosomal damage, may indicate lung cancer risk
Date:8/31/2007

A new technique could pave the way toward screening people at risk for lung cancer for the genetic changes that may foreshadow malignancies, researchers from the University of Colorado say.

The most successful way to reduce mortality in cancer is prevention, said researcher Wilbur A. Franklin, M.D., Professor of Pathology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Our goal would be to develop screening techniques for lung lesions that could enable us to identify precancerous changes.

The study appears in the September 1, 2007 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., and kills more people than the next three most common cancerscolon, breast and prostatecombined. While it is well-established that smoking is the primary risk factor for lung cancer, a number of lung cancer patients have never smoked. Additionally, quitting smoking only gradually reduces the risk of lung cancer because much of the genetic damage done by tobacco is irreversible.

Recent research suggests that the genetic changes that accompany lung cancer are not random, but are associated with specific chromosomal instabilities that may be indicative of future carcinomas. Researcher Marileila Varella-Garcia, M.D., also of UCHSC, targeted these non-random chromosomal changes in the study.

The investigators used a technique called spectral karyotyping (SKY) to examine the bronchial epithelium (BE) of 71 subjects14 patients with lung cancer, 43 smokers at high risk for developing lung cancer and 14 healthy non-smokersin the hope of identifying underlying genetic changes that might be hallmarks for cancer.

It is critically important that we thoroughly understand the nature and timing of the cellular and genetic effects of tobacco smoke on BE in order to identify biomarkers and devise intervention
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Contact: Suzy Martin
smartin@thoracic.org
212-315-8631
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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