Researchers Identify Gene Variations in Lung Cancer Patients That May Help Predict an Individual's Treatment Response

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Researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center have identified four inherited genetic variants in patients with non–small cell lung cancer that can help predict survival and treatment response. Their findings, published in Carcinogenesis,1 could help lead to more personalized treatment options and improved outcomes for patients.

The researchers analyzed DNA sequence variations in 651 patients with non–small cell lung cancer, paying close attention to 53 inflammation-related genes. They found that four of the top 15 variants associated with survival were located on the TNFRSF10B gene. In the study, these variants increased the risk of death as much as 41%. The researchers also found that patients with these gene variations had a greater risk of death if their treatment plans included surgery without chemotherapy compared to patients who were treated with chemotherapy following surgery.

Potential Biomarker

“There are few validated biomarkers that can predict survival or treatment response for patients with non–small cell lung cancer,” said study lead author Matthew B. Schabath, PhD, Assistant Member of the Cancer Epidemiology Program at Moffitt. “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.”

“Non–small cell lung cancer has an extremely poor 5-year survival rate. Only about 16% of all patients survive for 5years and tragically, only about 4% of patients with late-stage disease live longer than 5 years,” explained Dr. Schabath. “Part of the difficulty in treating lung cancer is the genetic diversity of patients and their tumors. 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.”

The researchers noted that there has been no published data examining the association of these four specific variants on cancer risk or outcome, although studies have reported associations with other gene variants in the same gene family as TNFRSF10B. ■

Disclosure: The work was supported by funding from the State of Florida through the James & Esther King Biomedical Research Program (09KN-15), a National Institutes of Health SPORE grant (P50 CA119997), an American Cancer Society grant (93-032-13), and a grant from the National Cancer Institute (5 UC2 CA 148322-02).


1. Schabath MB, Giuliano AR, Thompson ZJ, et al: TNFRSF10B polymorphisms and haplotypes associated with increased risk of death in non-small cell lung cancer. Carcinogenesis. August 2, 2013 (early release online).