Another interesting discovery the team made involved the effects of smoking on cancer risk for carriers and non-carriers of the predicted familial lung cancer gene. They found that in non-carriers, the more they smoked, the greater their risk of cancer. In carriers, on the other hand, any amount of smoking increased lung cancer risk. These findings suggest that smoking even a small amount can lead to cancer for individuals with inherited susceptibility.
The researchers also plan to continue screening additional families who could have familial lung cancer, to confirm this particular susceptibility region, and perhaps find additional regions. "The discovery of genes for other types of cancer has led to better understanding of those diseases, which in turn can lead to better strategies for treatment and prevention. We hope that uncovering a gene or genes responsible for lung cancer will do the same for this devastating disease," said co-lead author Joan Bailey-Wilson, Ph.D., NHGRI.
Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death in the United States (over 160,000 deaths expected in 2004), and the five-year survival rate is only 15 percent. Such a high mortality, combined with the large amount of spontaneous lung cancers that arise from smoking, makes finding potential histories of familial lung cancer or collecting genetic samples extremely difficult and time c
Contact: Geoff Spencer
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute