Link between genetic variations, and outcomes of non-small cell lung cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer. Patients diagnosed with NSCLC have a poor prognosis, with a 5-year survival rate of only 16 percent. Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center hope to improve NSCLC patient survival with the results of a study.

The researchers focused their attention on inherited genetic variations in genes called interleukins. They genotyped the DNA of 33 interleukin genes from 651 NSCLC patients.

“Interleukins have important roles in regulating cell growth, cell death and in the activation of the immune system,” explained Matthew Schabath, Ph.D., assistant member of the Cancer Epidemiology Program at Moffitt.  “Inherited genetic variations in interleukins and other genes can change their function and promote cancer development or control a patient’s response to therapy.”

The researchers discovered that patients who had certain genetic variations in interleukin genes had a better response to either surgery or chemotherapy, resulting in improvements in overall survival, disease-free survival and the amount of time until disease recurred.

This information could be used to personalise patient care in the future. “Discovery of biomarkers based on germline DNA variations represent a potentially valuable complementary strategy which could have translational implications for predicting patient outcomes and sub-classifying patients to tailored, patient-specific treatment,” said Schabath. Moffitt Cancer Center