- Two studies published in the most recent issue of Science magazine focus on how lung cancers evolve from one genetic mistake to numerous faults that become virulent cancers.
- One trial was conducted at CRUK’s London Research Institute and the other at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
- The two main takeaways from the combined study data are that lung cancers are comprised of numerous genetic faults and that the way lung cancer progresses could be the reason that most people with the disease receive a late-stage diagnosis.
The CRUK study included smokers, ex-smokers, and never-smokers. Researchers found that different genetic faults appear in different areas of lung cancer tumors, and that while many of the original genetic faults were caused by smoking, these primary aberrations became less and less significant as the lung cancer evolved—new errors arose in the absence of cigarette smoke as a carcinogen. At this point, the majority of faults were caused by a protein called APOBEC.
In the second study conducted at the University of Texas, researchers found that across 11 tumor samples, only 76% of a tumor’s mutations were ubiquitous. These researchers also noted the presence of the APOBEC protein as a key pathologic driver.
The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 16.6%—lower than for many other cancers. The new studies stress the importance of detecting lung cancer before it evolves, and confirms the need for various types of combination therapy to target cancerous tumors that have multiple genetic markers and drivers.