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Genetics affecting lung cancer revealed

21st August 2009

Scientists in the UK have further unpicked the genetics underpinning a smoker's risk of developing lung cancer.

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Research published in the Cancer Research journal has highlighted three areas of DNA linked with lung cancer risk in smokers. Two of them influence the type of cancer which develops.

The study supports previous work which has suggested a family link, even after taking smoking into account.

The Institute of Cancer Research team compared the DNA of 1,900 lung cancer patients and 1,400 healthy individuals. Information gathered on areas of genetic risk was then tested further in another 2,000 patients with lung cancer and a similar number of healthy volunteers.

The differences associated with lung cancer risk were found on chromosomes 5, 6 and 15.

Study leader Professor Richard Houlston said the next step was to pinpoint which gene, or genes, caused the increased risk of developing lung cancer and how they actually triggered this increase.

With 90% of cases of lung cancer caused through smoking, Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said the research showed that inherited genetic variation accounts for some of this risk and the type of lung cancer that develops.

The British Lung Foundation said the research provided clues as to why some smokers are more prone to developing certain types of lung cancer.

Honorary medical director Dr Noemi Eiser said: "We now hope that with more research this discovery will lead to the development of early screening techniques and treatments for lung cancer, which is currently the UK's biggest cancer killer."

 

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