(dailyRx News) Cancers don't behave the same in all bodies. Depending on the molecules involved, one cancer could be very different in one person than it is in another. This is becoming particularly clear in lung cancer.
Lung cancer in people born in Japan is quite different than lung cancer in Western patients.
First of all, the Japanese are more likely to be non-smokers and to have mutations in a protein known as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). But the differences don't stop there.
Researchers analyzed both smoking history and genetic factors in Japanese patients with lung cancer.
They examined the genetic make-up of 716 Japanese lung cancer patients and 716 Japanese people without the disease.
Investigators zeroed in on variations in chromosome 15q25, which has been previously studied for its role in lung cancer. The interaction has never been fully understood.
They found that certain variants did modify the impact of cigarette smoking on lung cancer. However, these variations did not have a "significantly major effect on the risk of lung cancer."
"The study shows that compared with never smokers, the smokers with the risk allele [15q25 variations] had a higher risk for lung cancer than those smokers without the risk allele (odds ratio goes from 4 to 8)," explained Fred Hirsch, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and pathology at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.
"The difference in genetic phenotype between Japanese and Western populations is not surprising and we have already learned that from the EGFR story. We need to learn more about that as we move towards individual management of lung cancer," Dr. Hirsch said.
Still more research is needed on 5q25 genetic region, the authors suggest.
This study appears in the May 2012 issue of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer's (IASLC) Journal of Thoracic Oncology.