Posted on October 9, 2009

Study Reinforces Focus on Personalized Treatment for Lung Cancer Patients Based on Ethnicity

Medical News Today, October 8, 2009

Clinical research out of University Hospitals Case Medical Center has found that African Americans with a common form of lung cancer have a lower frequency of drug-sensitizing genetic mutations, which may impact response to new cancer-fighting drugs. Published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the study by Rom Leidner, MD, and colleagues report that ethnicity plays a significant role in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) genetics and more personalized treatments may be beneficial to cancer patients.


These findings add to a growing body of evidence demonstrating genetic variation in genetic pathways between ethnic groups, and underscores the need for incorporation of these differences into the design of future clinical trials with agents targeting the EGFR pathway.

Epidemiologic studies have suggested that African Americans have a higher risk of NSCLC and have poorer outcomes with treatment. Ethnic background and genetic make-up are linked, and consequently, may impact the likelihood of major responses to oral EGFR inhibiting drugs. For example, in large international lung cancer trials a higher percentage of East Asian NSCLC patients were found to carry drug-sensitizing mutations of the EGFR gene than Caucasians, and as predicted the highest rates of response to EGFR inhibitor drugs were found in the East Asian patients.


“In the future, this may lead clinical cancer researchers to be able to take advantage of these findings for a ‘smart-design approach’ to clinical trials in lung cancer, with novel treatments and biomarkers employed among different patient populations or even individuals,” says Stanton Gerson, MD, Director of the University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center as well as the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Targeted treatments for patients based on a myriad of genetic and ethnic factors are the wave of the future and may lead the way to improved cure rates for our cancer patients.”

[Editor’s Note: “Genetic Abnormalities of the EGFR Pathway in African American Patients With Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer,” by Rom S. Leidner, et al. can be downloaded as a PDF file here. There is a charge.]

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