Breast cancer gene linked to lung cancer deaths

A gene that increases susceptibility to breast cancer may also predict worse outcomes in lung cancer patients, a European study has shown.

High levels of the BRCA1 breast cancer gene have been shown to double the risk of mortality over three years following surgery for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Outcomes in NSCLC patients could be improved by offering adjuvant chemotherapy to those with high levels of the gene, the researchers suggested.

They analysed tumour samples taken from 126 Polish patients during surgery for NSCLC.

They then measured levels of five genes believed to play a role in progression of NSCLC, including BRCA1.

Of the five genes, only BRCA1 was found to be predictive of survival. Patients with high levels of BRCA1 expression had a 98 per cent increased risk of dying within three years of surgery, compared with patients with low levels of BRCA1.

Event free survival in the 36 patients whose tumours had high levels of BRCA1 was 22 months on average.

Additional study of NSCLC tumour samples from a separate group of 58 patients, confirmed that high BRCA1 expression more than doubled the risk of death.

gpletters@haynet.com

European J Cancer Supp. 2007; 5 (4); 358
www.ecco-org.eu

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