Lung cancer gene variants could help boost survival odds

Researchers believe four inherited genetic variants in non-small cell lung cancer patients can be useful tools to help predict a patient's response to treatment and boost overall odds for survival.

A team at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL, spotted the biomarkers, and their work is detailed in the July issue of the journal Carcinogenesis.

While more research is needed to validate the initial findings, the new biomarker options could be crucial to helping boost a patient's survival odds and also forging a more personalized, and effective, cancer treatment, the researchers believe. Doctors are clamoring for more tools to treat the disease, which has a 16% survival rate after 5 years. What's more, the researchers said, the genetic diversity of patients and their tumors stymies the creation of viable long-term treatments for these patients. And that's where these inherited genetic variants could come into play.

"Using a personalized medicine approach to match the best treatment option to a patient based on his or her genetics will lead to better outcomes," Matthew Schabath, an assistant member of the Cancer Epidemiology Program at Moffitt and the study's lead author, said in a statement. And "having a validated genetic biomarker based on inherited differences in our genes may allow physicians to determine the best treatments for an individual patient based on their unique genetics."

For their work, the research team scrutinized DNA sequence variations for 651 patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Specifically, they looked at 53 genes related to inflammation. Based on that work, they discovered that four of the top 15 gene variations tied to survival could be found on one gene--TNFRSF10B. And those variants appear to carry a lot of power. Patients found to have them faced a 41% higher risk of death. But, crucial to personalized care strategies, they found that these patients were more likely to die if their treatment plans included surgery without chemotherapy. That risk declined, however, with patients who also pursued chemotherapy (following their surgery), the researchers noted.

- read the release
- here's the journal abstract