Genetic Basis of Lung Cancer Different for African Americans, Study Suggests

June 12, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – New research suggests that African Americans and Caucasians differ significantly in the genes that drive the most common form of lung cancer.

Scientists at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) used genomic sequencing to analyze tissue samples from 99 patients who had non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and who reported having African American ancestry. Sixty-one percent of the population was male and 94 percent were current or former smokers.

The researchers conducted the analysis using a panel of 80 genes that they had developed and validated for NSCLC, which represents more than 80 percent of lung cancer cases.

"African Americans are historically underrepresented in genetic research investigating the genes that drive lung cancer, despite a higher incidence of mortality from the disease," says Luiz Araujo, MD, an American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Long-Term International Fellow at The OSUCCC – James and first author of the research study.

"Here, we found that many of the classic lung cancer mutations seen in Caucasians were rarely found in African Americans. This suggests that there are different, yet-to-be-discovered genetic mutations driving lung cancer in African Americans," says Araujo. "There is a critical need for additional research to discover these significant and unknown gene mutations if we are to develop effective targeted therapies for African Americans with lung cancer.

"We believe this 80-gene panel could serve as a reference point moving forward for scientists studying lung cancer genomics," he adds.

Araujo presented this research at the ASCO annual meeting Saturday, May 31, 2014.

An estimated 228,190 people are diagnosed with lung cancer annually. Non-small cell lung cancers represent 80 percent of all lung cancer cases, with 50 percent of those being adenocarcinomas that begin in the outer parts of the lungs. Adenocarcinoma is the most common form of lung cancer in women and Asians and is often diagnosed in nonsmokers.

This study was supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI 1RC1 CA146260-0.)

About The OSUCCC – James

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only four in the United States funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials. The NCI recently rated Ohio State’s cancer program as "exceptional," the highest rating given by NCI survey teams. As the cancer program’s 228-bed adult patient-care component, The James is one of the top cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S.News & World Report.


Media Contact: Amanda J. Harper, Director of Media Relations, The OSUCCC–James, 614-293-3737 (central media line), 614-685-5420 (direct) or

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Amanda Harper

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614-685-5420 (direct)

614-293-3737 (main)

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