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1.  Driver Mutations Determine Survival in Smokers and Never Smokers with Stage IIIB/IV Lung Adenocarcinomas 
Cancer  2012;118(23):5840-5847.
We previously demonstrated that stage IIIB/IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) never smokers lived 50% longer than former/current smokers. This observation persisted after adjusting for age, performance status, and gender. We hypothesized that smoking-dependent differences in the distribution of driver mutations might explain differences in prognosis between these subgroups.
We reviewed 293 never smokers and 382 former/current smokers with lung adenocarcinoma who underwent testing for EGFR and KRAS mutations and rearrangements in ALK between 2009 and 2010. Clinical outcomes and patient characteristics were collected. Survival probabilities were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Group comparison was performed with log-rank tests and Cox proportional hazards methods.
While the overall incidence of these mutations was nearly identical (55% never smokers vs. 57% current/former smokers, p=0.48), there were significant differences in the distribution of mutations between these groups: EGFR mutations- 37% never smokers vs. 14% former/current smokers (p<0.0001); KRAS mutations- 4% never smokers vs. 43% former/current smokers (p<0.0001); ALK rearrangements- 12% never smokers vs. 2% former/current smokers (p<0.0001). Among never smokers and former/current smokers, prognosis differed significantly by genotype. Patients harboring KRAS mutations demonstrated the poorest survival. Smoking status, however, had no influence on survival within each genotype.
Never smokers and former/current smokers with lung adenocarcinomas are not homogeneous subgroups. Each is made up of individuals whose tumors have a unique distribution of driver mutations which are associated with different prognoses, irrespective of smoking history.
PMCID: PMC3424296  PMID: 22605530
non-small cell lung cancer; adenocarcinoma; EGFR; KRAS; ALK; never smoker
2.  Lung cancer trends: smoking, obesity, and sex assessed in the Staten Island University’s lung cancer patients 
The incidence of lung cancer in the United States decreased by 1.8% from 1991 to 2005 while it increased by 0.5% in females. We assessed whether nonsmokers afflicted with lung cancer at Staten Island University Hospital are disproportionately female in comparison to national averages. We also evaluated different factors including race, histology, and body mass index (BMI) in correlation with smoking history.
A retrospective chart review was conducted from 2005 to 2011 on 857 patients. Patients were divided into two groups according to their smoking status: current or ever-smokers, and former or never-smokers. A chi-square test for categorical data and multivariate logistic regression analyses was used to study the relation between BMI and the other clinical and demographic data.
Forty-nine percent of patients were men and 51% were women with a mean age at diagnosis of 67.8 years. Current smokers were most common (50.2%) followed by ever-smokers (18.2%), former smokers (15.8%) and never-smokers (15.6%). Forty eight percent had stage IV lung cancer upon presentation. Never-smokers with lung cancer were 24 times more likely to be females. However, the proportion of female former smokers (31.6%) was lower than the proportion of male former smokers (68.4%) (P=0.001). There was no significant association between American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) stage, sex, race, and histological type in the two smoking groups. Current/ever-smokers tended to be younger at age of diagnosis (P=0.0003). BMI was lower in the current/ever-smokers (26.8 kg/m2) versus former/never-smokers (28.8) in males (P=0.0005). BMI was significantly higher in males (30.26) versus females (25.25) in the never-smoker category (P=0.004). Current smokers, compared to others, had a lower BMI in males (26.4 versus 28.3; P=0.0001) and females (25.5 versus 26.9; P=0.013) but the mean BMI for all groups was in the overweight/obese range.
Our population of lung cancer patients although demographically distinct, reflects a similar proportion of afflicted nonsmokers to the national population. Smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer, but there is also a possible direct correlation with BMI that would support obesity as a potential risk factor for lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC4085324  PMID: 25061333
lung; cancer; smoking; obesity; BMI; Staten Island
3.  Lung Cancer Occurrence in Never-Smokers: An Analysis of 13 Cohorts and 22 Cancer Registry Studies  
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(9):e185.
Better information on lung cancer occurrence in lifelong nonsmokers is needed to understand gender and racial disparities and to examine how factors other than active smoking influence risk in different time periods and geographic regions.
Methods and Findings
We pooled information on lung cancer incidence and/or death rates among self-reported never-smokers from 13 large cohort studies, representing over 630,000 and 1.8 million persons for incidence and mortality, respectively. We also abstracted population-based data for women from 22 cancer registries and ten countries in time periods and geographic regions where few women smoked. Our main findings were: (1) Men had higher death rates from lung cancer than women in all age and racial groups studied; (2) male and female incidence rates were similar when standardized across all ages 40+ y, albeit with some variation by age; (3) African Americans and Asians living in Korea and Japan (but not in the US) had higher death rates from lung cancer than individuals of European descent; (4) no temporal trends were seen when comparing incidence and death rates among US women age 40–69 y during the 1930s to contemporary populations where few women smoke, or in temporal comparisons of never-smokers in two large American Cancer Society cohorts from 1959 to 2004; and (5) lung cancer incidence rates were higher and more variable among women in East Asia than in other geographic areas with low female smoking.
These comprehensive analyses support claims that the death rate from lung cancer among never-smokers is higher in men than in women, and in African Americans and Asians residing in Asia than in individuals of European descent, but contradict assertions that risk is increasing or that women have a higher incidence rate than men. Further research is needed on the high and variable lung cancer rates among women in Pacific Rim countries.
Michael Thun and colleagues pooled and analyzed comprehensive data on lung cancer incidence and death rates among never-smokers to examine what factors other than active smoking affect lung cancer risk.
Editors' Summary
Every year, more than 1.4 million people die from lung cancer, a leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. In the US alone, more than 161,000 people will die from lung cancer this year. Like all cancers, lung cancer occurs when cells begin to divide uncontrollably because of changes in their genes. The main trigger for these changes in lung cancer is exposure to the chemicals in cigarette smoke—either directly through smoking cigarettes or indirectly through exposure to secondhand smoke. Eighty-five to 90% of lung cancer deaths are caused by exposure to cigarette smoke and, on average, current smokers are 15 times more likely to die from lung cancer than lifelong nonsmokers (never smokers). Furthermore, a person's cumulative lifetime risk of developing lung cancer is related to how much they smoke, to how many years they are a smoker, and—if they give up smoking—to the age at which they stop smoking.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because lung cancer is so common, even the small fraction of lung cancer that occurs in lifelong nonsmokers represents a large number of people. For example, about 20,000 of this year's US lung cancer deaths will be in never-smokers. However, very little is known about how age, sex, or race affects the incidence (the annual number of new cases of diseases in a population) or death rates from lung cancer among never-smokers. A better understanding of the patterns of lung cancer incidence and death rates among never-smokers could provide useful information about the factors other than cigarette smoke that increase the likelihood of not only never-smokers, but also former smokers and current smokers developing lung cancer. In this study, therefore, the researchers pooled and analyzed a large amount of information about lung cancer incidence and death rates among never smokers to examine what factors other than active smoking affect lung cancer risk.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed information on lung cancer incidence and/or death rates among nearly 2.5 million self-reported never smokers (men and women) from 13 large studies investigating the health of people in North America, Europe, and Asia. They also analyzed similar information for women taken from cancer registries in ten countries at times when very few women were smokers (for example, the US in the late 1930s). The researchers' detailed statistical analyses reveal, for example, that lung cancer death rates in African Americans and in Asians living in Korea and Japan (but not among Asians living in the US) are higher than those in people of the European continental ancestry group. They also show that men have higher death rates from lung cancer than women irrespective of racial group, but that women aged 40–59 years have a slightly higher incidence of lung cancer than men of a similar age. This difference disappears at older ages. Finally, an analysis of lung cancer incidence and death rates at different times during the past 70 years shows no evidence of an increase in the lung cancer burden among never smokers over time.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although some of the findings described above have been hinted at in previous, smaller studies, these and other findings provide a much more accurate picture of lung cancer incidence and death rates among never smokers. Most importantly the underlying data used in these analyses are now freely available and should provide an excellent resource for future studies of lung cancer in never smokers.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and health professionals about all aspects of lung cancer and information on smoking and cancer (in English and Spanish)
Links to other US-based resources dealing with lung cancer are provided by MedlinePlus (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK provides key facts about the link between lung cancer and smoking and information about all other aspects of lung cancer
PMCID: PMC2531137  PMID: 18788891
4.  Epidermal growth factor receptor mutation in lung adenocarcinoma in India: A single center study 
Adenocarcinoma, a subgroup of non-small cell lung cancer, is the most frequent form occurring in the non-smokers. Mutation in tyrosine kinase domain of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has been a common feature observed in lung adenocarcinoma. The study was carried out to detect the prevalence of EGFR mutation in lung adenocarcinoma.
Materials and Methods:
EGFR mutation status in 166 lung adenocarcinoma patients was obtained retrospectively. Mutation tests were performed on paraffin embedded tissue blocks as a routine diagnostic procedure by polymerase chain reaction followed by direct nucleotide sequencing. Patient’s demographics and other clinical details were obtained from the medical records.
EGFR mutation was detected in 43/166 (25.9%) patients. Gender wise mutation was observed as 18/55 (32.7%) in females and 25/111 (22.5%) in males. Overall, EGFR mutation was correlated with never smokers and distant metastasis (P < 0.05), but not associated with the gender, disease stage and pleural effusion. Exon 19 deletions were significantly correlated with females, never smokers, pleural effusion and distant metastasis (P < 0.05). However, point mutation on exon 21 did not show any statistical association with the above variables. Median overall survival was 22 months (95% confidence interval, 15.4-28.6). Female sex, EGFR mutation and absence of metastasis are associated with good prognosis.
EGFR mutation in lung adenocarcinoma was higher in never smokers, females and patients with distant metastasis. However, it was not linked with tobacco smoking. The prevalence of EGFR mutation observed is in range with the previously published reports from the Asian countries.
PMCID: PMC3746453  PMID: 23961259
Adenocarcinoma; epidermal growth factor receptor; mutation; non-small cell lung cancer
5.  Histological subtype and smoking status, but not gender, are associated with epidermal growth factor receptor mutations in non-small-cell lung cancer 
Molecular and Clinical Oncology  2013;2(2):252-258.
Mutations in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) commonly occur in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients characterized by female gender, never-smoker status and adenocarcinoma histology. The aim of this study was to determine whether gender is a confounding factor for EGFR mutations in NSCLC. To elucidate the confounding effect, Pearson’s χ2 test and logistic regression models were used to correlate these characteristics with EGFR mutations in 426 NSCLC patients treated at our institutes. Of those 426 NSCLC patients, 47% were females, 57% were non-smokers and 84% had adenocarcinomas. The multivariate logistic regression analysis demonstrated that never-smoker status [odds ratio (OR)=3.49, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.99–6.13; P<0.001)] and adenocarcinoma (OR=9.43, 95% CI 3.62–24.56; P<0.001) were associated with EGFR mutations; however, gender was not (OR=1.25, 95% CI: 0.73–2.15; P=0.416). Furthermore, gender was not associated with EGFR mutation subtypes (OR=1.19, 95% CI: 0.56–2.50; P=0.650). The frequency of EGFR mutations among females and males was not different in non-smokers (64.8 vs. 55.8%, P=0.204) or ever-smokers (27.8 vs. 24.2%, P=0.775). Therefore, if the assessment for EGFR mutation status was limited to non-smoking females with adenocarcinoma, up to 40% of the patients harboring EGFR mutations would be precluded from the benefit of EGFR inhibitor therapy. Our results indicated that gender is a confounding factor for EGFR mutations in NSCLC and suggested that gender may not be associated with tumorigenesis in NSCLC-harboring EGFR mutations.
PMCID: PMC3917768  PMID: 24649342
gender; a confounding factor; epidermal growth factor receptor mutations; non-small-cell lung cancer
6.  Factors affecting 30-month survival in lung cancer patients 
Background & objectives:
Age adjusted incidence rate of lung cancer in India ranges from 7.4 to 13.1 per 100,000 among males and 3.9 to 5.8 per 100,000 among females. The factors affecting survival in lung cancer patients in India are not fully understood. The current study was undertaken to evaluate the factors affecting survival in patients diagnosed with lung cancer attending a tertiary care cancer institute in Bangalore, Karnataka, India.
Consecutive patients with primary lung cancer attending Bangalore Institute of Oncology, a tertiary care centre at Bangalore, between 2006 and 2009 were included. Demographic, clinical, radiological data were collected retrospectively from the medical records.
A total of 170 consecutive subjects (128 males, 42 females) diagnosed to have lung cancer; 151 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and 19 small cell lung cancer (SCLC) were included. A higher proportion of never-smokers (54.1%) were observed, mostly presenting below the age of 60 yr. Most subjects were in stage IV and III at the time of diagnosis. More than 50 per cent of patients presented with late stage lung cancer even though the duration of symptoms is less than 2 months. The 30-month overall survival rates for smokers and never-smokers were 32 and 49 per cent, respectively. No significant differences were observed in 30 month survival based on age at presentation, gender and type of lung cancer. Cox proportional hazards model identified never-smokers and duration of symptoms less than 1 month as factors adversely affecting survival.
Interpretation & conclusions:
Our results showed that lung cancer in Indians involved younger subjects and associated with poorer survival as compared to other ethnic population. Studies on large sample need to be done to evaluate risk factors in lung cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3516029  PMID: 23168702
Duration of symptoms; histopathological type; lung cancer; never smokers; small cell lung cancer; survival
7.  Promoter methylation of RASSF1A and DAPK and mutations of K-ras, p53, and EGFR in lung tumors from smokers and never-smokers 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:74.
Epidemiological studies indicate that some characteristics of lung cancer among never-smokers significantly differ from those of smokers. Aberrant promoter methylation and mutations in some oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes are frequent in lung tumors from smokers but rare in those from never-smokers. In this study, we analyzed promoter methylation in the ras-association domain isoform A (RASSF1A) and the death-associated protein kinase (DAPK) genes in lung tumors from patients with primarily non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) from the Western Pennsylvania region. We compare the results with the smoking status of the patients and the mutation status of the K-ras, p53, and EGFR genes determined previously on these same lung tumors.
Promoter methylation of the RASSF1A and DAPK genes was analyzed by using a modified two-stage methylation-specific PCR. Data on mutations of K-ras, p53, and EGFR were obtained from our previous studies.
The RASSF1A gene promoter methylation was found in tumors from 46.7% (57/122) of the patients and was not significantly different between smokers and never-smokers, but was associated significantly in multiple variable analysis with tumor histology (p = 0.031) and marginally with tumor stage (p = 0.063). The DAPK gene promoter methylation frequency in these tumors was 32.8% (40/122) and did not differ according to the patients' smoking status, tumor histology, or tumor stage. Multivariate analysis adjusted for age, gender, smoking status, tumor histology and stage showed that the frequency of promoter methylation of the RASSF1A or DAPK genes did not correlate with the frequency of mutations of the K-ras, p53, and EGFR gene.
Our results showed that RASSF1A and DAPK genes' promoter methylation occurred frequently in lung tumors, although the prevalence of this alteration in these genes was not associated with the smoking status of the patients or the occurrence of mutations in the K-ras, p53 and EGFR genes, suggesting each of these events may represent independent event in non-small lung tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC1877812  PMID: 17477876
8.  Gefitinib or Erlotinib as Maintenance Therapy in Patients with Advanced Stage Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Systematic Review 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59314.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI), gefitinib and erlotinib have been tested as maintenance therapy in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The studies are quite heterogenous regarding study size and populations, and a synopsis of these data could give some more insight in the role of maintenance therapy with TKI.
In September 2012 we performed a search in the pubmed, EMBASE and Cochrane library databases for randomized phase III trials exploring the role of gefitinib or erlotinib in advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Through a rigorous selection process with specific criteria, five trials (n = 2436 patients) were included for analysis. Standard statistical methods for meta-analysis were applied.
TKIs (gefitinib and erlotinib) significantly increased progression-free survival (PFS) [hazard ratio (HR) 0.63, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.50–0.76, I2 = 78.1%] and overall survival (HR 0.84, 95% CI 0.76–0.93, I2 = 0.0%) compared with placebo or observation. The PFS benefit was consistent in all subgroups including stage, sex, ethnicity, performance status, smoking status, histology, EGFR mutation status, and previous response to chemotherapy. Patients with clinical features such as female, never smoker, adenocarcinoma, Asian ethnicity and EGFR mutation positive had more pronounced PFS benefit. Overall survival benefit was observed in patients with clinical features such as female, non-smoker, smoker, adenocarcinoma, and previous stable to induction chemotherapy. Severe adverse events were not frequent. Main limitations of this analysis are that it is not based on individual patient data, and not all studies provided detailed subgroups analysis.
The results show that maintenance therapy with erlotinib or gefitinib produces a significant PFS and OS benefit for unselected patients with advanced NSCLC compared with placebo or observation. Given the less toxicity of TKIs than chemotherapy and simple oral administration, this treatment strategy seems to be of important clinical value.
PMCID: PMC3605444  PMID: 23555654
9.  Current and Former Smoking and Risk for Venous Thromboembolism: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(9):e1001515.
In a meta-analysis of 32 observational studies involving 3,966,184 participants and 35,151 events, Suhua Wu and colleagues found that current, ever, and former smoking was associated with risk of venous thromboembolism.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Smoking is a well-established risk factor for atherosclerotic disease, but its role as an independent risk factor for venous thromboembolism (VTE) remains controversial. We conducted a meta-analysis to summarize all published prospective studies and case-control studies to update the risk for VTE in smokers and determine whether a dose–response relationship exists.
Methods and Findings
We performed a literature search using MEDLINE (source PubMed, January 1, 1966 to June 15, 2013) and EMBASE (January 1, 1980 to June 15, 2013) with no restrictions. Pooled effect estimates were obtained by using random-effects meta-analysis. Thirty-two observational studies involving 3,966,184 participants and 35,151 VTE events were identified. Compared with never smokers, the overall combined relative risks (RRs) for developing VTE were 1.17 (95% CI 1.09–1.25) for ever smokers, 1.23 (95% CI 1.14–1.33) for current smokers, and 1.10 (95% CI 1.03–1.17) for former smokers, respectively. The risk increased by 10.2% (95% CI 8.6%–11.8%) for every additional ten cigarettes per day smoked or by 6.1% (95% CI 3.8%–8.5%) for every additional ten pack-years. Analysis of 13 studies adjusted for body mass index (BMI) yielded a relatively higher RR (1.30; 95% CI 1.24–1.37) for current smokers. The population attributable fractions of VTE were 8.7% (95% CI 4.8%–12.3%) for ever smoking, 5.8% (95% CI 3.6%–8.2%) for current smoking, and 2.7% (95% CI 0.8%–4.5%) for former smoking. Smoking was associated with an absolute risk increase of 24.3 (95% CI 15.4–26.7) cases per 100,000 person-years.
Cigarette smoking is associated with a slightly increased risk for VTE. BMI appears to be a confounding factor in the risk estimates. The relationship between VTE and smoking has clinical relevance with respect to individual screening, risk factor modification, and the primary and secondary prevention of VTE.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Blood normally flows throughout the human body, supplying its organs and tissues with oxygen and nutrients. But, when an injury occurs, proteins called clotting factors make the blood gel (coagulate) at the injury site. The resultant clot (thrombus) plugs the wound and prevents blood loss. Occasionally, a thrombus forms inside an uninjured blood vessel and partly or completely blocks the blood flow. Clot formation inside one of the veins deep within the body, usually in a leg, is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and can cause pain, swelling, and redness in the affected limb. DVT can be treated with drugs that stop the blood clot from getting larger (anticoagulants) but, if left untreated, part of the clot can break off and travel to the lungs, where it can cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. DVT and pulmonary embolism are collectively known as venous thromboembolism (VTE). Risk factors for VTE include having an inherited blood clotting disorder, oral contraceptive use, prolonged inactivity (for example, during a long-haul plane flight), and having surgery. VTEs are present in about a third of all people who die in hospital and, in non-bedridden populations, about 10% of people die within 28 days of a first VTE event.
Why Was This Study Done?
Some but not all studies have reported that smoking is also a risk factor for VTE. A clear demonstration of a significant association (a relationship unlikely to have occurred by chance) between smoking and VTE might help to reduce the burden of VTE because smoking can potentially be reduced by encouraging individuals to quit smoking and through taxation policies and other measures designed to reduce tobacco consumption. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers examine the link between smoking and the risk of VTE in the general population and investigate whether heavy smokers have a higher risk of VTE than light smokers. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; meta-analysis is a statistical method for combining the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 32 observational studies (investigations that record a population's baseline characteristics and subsequent disease development) that provided data on smoking and VTE. Together, the studies involved nearly 4 million participants and recorded 35,151 VTE events. Compared with never smokers, ever smokers (current and former smokers combined) had a relative risk (RR) of developing VTE of 1.17. That is, ever smokers were 17% more likely to develop VTE than never smokers. For current smokers and former smokers, RRs were 1.23 and 1.10, respectively. Analysis of only studies that adjusted for body mass index (a measure of body fat and a known risk factor for conditions that affect the heart and circulation) yielded a slightly higher RR (1.30) for current smokers compared with never smokers. For ever smokers, the population attributable fraction (the proportional reduction in VTE that would accrue in the population if no one smoked) was 8.7%. Notably, the risk of VTE increased by 10.2% for every additional ten cigarettes smoked per day and by 6.1% for every additional ten pack-years. Thus, an individual who smoked one pack of cigarettes per day for 40 years had a 26.7% higher risk of developing VTE than someone who had never smoked. Finally, smoking was associated with an absolute risk increase of 24.3 cases of VTE per 100,000 person-years.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that cigarette smoking is associated with a statistically significant, slightly increased risk for VTE among the general population and reveal a dose-relationship between smoking and VTE risk. They cannot prove that smoking causes VTE—people who smoke may share other unknown characteristics (confounding factors) that are actually responsible for their increased risk of VTE. Indeed, these findings identify body mass index as a potential confounding factor that might affect the accuracy of estimates of the association between smoking and VTE risk. Although the risk of VTE associated with smoking is smaller than the risk associated with some well-established VTE risk factors, smoking is more common (globally, there are 1.1 billion smokers) and may act synergistically with some of these risk factors. Thus, smoking behavior should be considered when screening individuals for VTE and in the prevention of first and subsequent VTE events.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute provides information on deep vein thrombosis (including an animation about how DVT causes pulmonary embolism), and information on pulmonary embolism
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information on deep vein thrombosis, including personal stories, and on pulmonary embolism; SmokeFree is a website provided by the UK National Health Service that offers advice on quitting smoking
The non-profit organization US National Blood Clot Alliance provides detailed information about deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism for patients and professionals and includes a selection of personal stories about these conditions
The World Health Organization provides information about the dangers of tobacco (in several languages), from the US National Cancer Institute, offers online tools and resources to help people quit smoking
MedlinePlus has links to further information about deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and the dangers of smoking (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3775725  PMID: 24068896
10.  Differences in clinical presentation of non-small cell lung cancer in never-smokers versus smokers 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2013;5(6):758-763.
This study was conducted to evaluate whether or not tumor spread and the diagnostic process in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is different based on smoking history.
Associations between smoking status and clinical presentation were evaluated controlling for the effect of histology. Lung cancer with delayed diagnosis (LCDD) and incidental detection (LCID) were determined based on medical records.
Of 914 patients, frequency of distant metastases was more common in never-smokers than in smokers (59% and 36%, respectively; P<0.001). Although never-smokers were more likely to have LCDD than smokers (18% and 11%, respectively; P=0.038), LCDD were not significantly associated with frequency of distant metastases [49% (LCDD) vs. 42% (non-LCDD); P=0.189] as well as tumor [29% (T3-4) vs. 24% (T1-2); P=0.134] and node [43% (N2-3) vs. 44% (N0-1); P=0.838] stage. Interestingly, never-smokers are more likely to have LCID than smokers (31% and 19%, respectively; P=0.010). In survival analysis, LCID (P=0.001; HR, 0.63) remained a prognostic factor, while LCDD did not.
This study suggests distinct metastatic pattern and diagnostic processes of never-smokers. The link between survival and incidental detection was also indicated.
PMCID: PMC3886698  PMID: 24409352
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); advanced stage; incidental detection; smoking history
11.  Ion Channel Gene Expression in Lung Adenocarcinoma: Potential Role in Prognosis and Diagnosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86569.
Ion channels are known to regulate cancer processes at all stages. The roles of ion channels in cancer pathology are extremely diverse. We systematically analyzed the expression patterns of ion channel genes in lung adenocarcinoma. First, we compared the expression of ion channel genes between normal and tumor tissues in patients with lung adenocarcinoma. Thirty-seven ion channel genes were identified as being differentially expressed between the two groups. Next, we investigated the prognostic power of ion channel genes in lung adenocarcinoma. We assigned a risk score to each lung adenocarcinoma patient based on the expression of the differentially expressed ion channel genes. We demonstrated that the risk score effectively predicted overall survival and recurrence-free survival in lung adenocarcinoma. We also found that the risk scores for ever-smokers were higher than those for never-smokers. Multivariate analysis indicated that the risk score was a significant prognostic factor for survival, which is independent of patient age, gender, stage, smoking history, Myc level, and EGFR/KRAS/ALK gene mutation status. Finally, we investigated the difference in ion channel gene expression between the two major subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer: adenocarcinoma and squamous-cell carcinoma. Thirty ion channel genes were identified as being differentially expressed between the two groups. We suggest that ion channel gene expression can be used to improve the subtype classification in non-small cell lung cancer at the molecular level. The findings in this study have been validated in several independent lung cancer cohorts.
PMCID: PMC3900557  PMID: 24466154
12.  Pack Years of Cigarette Smoking as a Prognostic Factor in Patients with Stage IIIB/IV Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
Cancer  2010;116(3):670-675.
We undertook this study to characterize the relationship between survival of patients with stage IIIB/IV Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and pack years of cigarette smoking.
We analyzed data from patients with stage IIIB/IV NSCLC who had completed a prospective smoking questionnaire. We evaluated the impact of pack years of cigarette smoking, age, sex, Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS), and presence of weight loss >5% on overall survival using univariate and multivariate analyses.
Smoking history and clinical data were available for 2,010 patients with stage IIIB/IV NSCLC (1004 women, 1006 men). Seventy percent (1409) smoked >15 pack years, 13% (270) were former and current smokers who had smoked ≤ 15 pack years, and 16% (331) were never smokers (<100 lifetime cigarettes). Never smokers had a longer median survival relative to former or current smokers (17.8 months vs 11.3 months, log rank p<0.001). Among smokers, patients with ≤ 15 pack year history of smoking had a longer median survival than patients who had smoked > 15 pack years (14.6 months vs 10.8 months, log rank p =0.03). As the number of pack years increased, the median overall survival decreased (log rank p <0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that history of smoking was an independent prognostic factor (Hazard Ratio 1.36; p<0.001).
More cigarette smoking, measured in pack years, was associated with decreased survival after diagnosis of stage IIIB/IV NSCLC. Trials assessing survival in stage IIIB/IV NSCLC should report detailed cigarette smoking history for all patients.
PMCID: PMC2815173  PMID: 20029977
13.  Clinical Characteristics of Patients With Lung Adenocarcinomas Harboring BRAF Mutations 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;29(15):2046-2051.
BRAF mutations occur in non–small-cell lung cancer. Therapies targeting BRAF mutant tumors have recently been identified. We undertook this study to determine the clinical characteristics of patients with lung adenocarcinomas harboring BRAF mutations.
Patients and Methods
We reviewed data from consecutive patients with lung adenocarcinoma whose tumors underwent BRAF, EGFR, and KRAS mutation testing as well as fluorescence in situ hybridization for ALK rearrangements. Patient characteristics including age, sex, race, performance status, smoking history, stage, treatment history, and overall survival were collected.
Among 697 patients with lung adenocarcinoma, BRAF mutations were present in 18 patients (3%; 95% CI, 2% to 4%). The BRAF mutations identified were V600E (50%), G469A (39%), and D594G (11%). Mutations in EGFR were present in 24%, KRAS in 25%, and ALK translocations in 6%. In contrast to patients with EGFR mutations and ALK rearrangements who were mostly never smokers, all patients with BRAF mutations were current or former smokers (P < .001). The median overall survival of advanced-stage patients with BRAF mutations was not reached. In comparison, the median overall survival of patients with EGFR mutations was 37 months (P = .73), with KRAS mutations was 18 months (P = .12), and with ALK rearrangements was not reached (P = .64).
BRAF mutations occur in 3% of patients with lung adenocarcinoma and occur more commonly in current and former smokers. The incidence of BRAF mutations other than V600E is significantly higher in lung cancer than in melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3107760  PMID: 21483012
14.  Relation between smoking history and gene expression profiles in lung adenocarcinomas 
BMC Medical Genomics  2012;5:22.
Lung cancer is the worldwide leading cause of death from cancer. Tobacco usage is the major pathogenic factor, but all lung cancers are not attributable to smoking. Specifically, lung cancer in never-smokers has been suggested to represent a distinct disease entity compared to lung cancer arising in smokers due to differences in etiology, natural history and response to specific treatment regimes. However, the genetic aberrations that differ between smokers and never-smokers’ lung carcinomas remain to a large extent unclear.
Unsupervised gene expression analysis of 39 primary lung adenocarcinomas was performed using Illumina HT-12 microarrays. Results from unsupervised analysis were validated in six external adenocarcinoma data sets (n=687), and six data sets comprising normal airway epithelial or normal lung tissue specimens (n=467). Supervised gene expression analysis between smokers and never-smokers were performed in seven adenocarcinoma data sets, and results validated in the six normal data sets.
Initial unsupervised analysis of 39 adenocarcinomas identified two subgroups of which one harbored all never-smokers. A generated gene expression signature could subsequently identify never-smokers with 79-100% sensitivity in external adenocarcinoma data sets and with 76-88% sensitivity in the normal materials. A notable fraction of current/former smokers were grouped with never-smokers. Intriguingly, supervised analysis of never-smokers versus smokers in seven adenocarcinoma data sets generated similar results. Overlap in classification between the two approaches was high, indicating that both approaches identify a common set of samples from current/former smokers as potential never-smokers. The gene signature from unsupervised analysis included several genes implicated in lung tumorigenesis, immune-response associated pathways, genes previously associated with smoking, as well as marker genes for alveolar type II pneumocytes, while the best classifier from supervised analysis comprised genes strongly associated with proliferation, but also genes previously associated with smoking.
Based on gene expression profiling, we demonstrate that never-smokers can be identified with high sensitivity in both tumor material and normal airway epithelial specimens. Our results indicate that tumors arising in never-smokers, together with a subset of tumors from smokers, represent a distinct entity of lung adenocarcinomas. Taken together, these analyses provide further insight into the transcriptional patterns occurring in lung adenocarcinoma stratified by smoking history.
PMCID: PMC3447685  PMID: 22676229
Lung cancer; Smoking; Gene expression analysis; Adenocarcinoma; EGFR; Never-smokers; Immune response
15.  First report of upfront treatment with Gefitinib in comparison with chemotherapy in advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients from south India: Analysis of 120 patients 
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths in males and sixth among females in south India. Lung cancer is being increasingly recognized among non-smokers.
Materials and Methods:
Stage IIIB and IV advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients (n=120) treated from January 2009 to December 2010 were retrospectively analyzed. Baseline clinical parameters, treatment protocol, response to therapy and survival were noted. Decision to use upfront Gefitinib was based on parameters like female sex, non-smoking status, adenocarcinoma histology and poor PS. Progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were analyzed by the Kaplan Meier method and prognosis by log rank test and Cox regression.
Baseline parameters: median age: 60 years (22–78 years); male sex: 83 (69.2%); Stage IV: 95(79.2%); adenocarcinoma: 109 (90.8%); smokers: 66 (55%); PS 2/3: 65(54.2%); first-line therapy: Gefitinib: 47 (39.2%), chemotherapy: 73 (60.8%). Among those progressing after chemotherapy, 17 (23%) received second-line Gefitinib. After a median follow-up of 7.5 months (1–26 months), median PFS and OS were 5 months (0–23 months) and 7.5 months (1–26 mo), respectively. On univariate analysis, PFS was significantly improved for non-smokers (7 months vs 4 months, P=0.010), females (7 months vs 5 months, P=0.024) and upfront treatment with Gefitinib (10 months vs 4 months, P=0.014). The only significant factor that affected OS was female sex (18 months vs 9 months, P=0.042). No factors were significant on multivariate analysis. Among PS 2/3 patients, PFS was significantly higher with Gefitinib (n=36) than with single-agent chemotherapy (n=29) [median PFS of 10 months vs 4 months (P=0.017)].
In the largest series on the use of first-line Gefitinib from India, we found it to be a useful agent in the treatment of NSCLC, especially in females patients with poor PS and non-smokers, even without Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) mutation testing. Second-line Gefitinib may have negated the OS differences. However, EGFR mutation studies may help in further individualization of therapy.
PMCID: PMC3523471  PMID: 23248420
Gefitinib; non-small cell lung cancer; non-smokers; south India
16.  Lungs don’t forget: Comparison of the KRAS and EGFR mutation profile and survival of “collegiate smokers” and never smokers with advanced lung cancers 
We hypothesize that among patients with lung cancers the KRAS/EGFR mutation profile and overall survival of “collegiate smokers” (former smokers who smoked between 101 lifetime cigarettes and 5 pack years) are distinct from those of never smokers and former smokers with ≥ 15 pack years.
We collected age, sex, stage, survival, and smoking history for patients evaluated from 2004 to 2009 with advanced stage lung cancers and known KRAS/EGFR status. Mutation profile and overall survival were compared using Fisher’s exact test and log-rank test, respectively.
Data were available for 852 patients with advanced stage lung cancers with known KRAS/EGFR status. 6% were “collegiate smokers”, 36% were never smokers, and 30% were former smokers with ≥ 15 pack years. The mutation profile of “collegiate smokers” (15% KRAS mutations, 27% EGFR mutations) was distinct from those of never smokers (p < .001) and former smokers with ≥ 15 pack years (p < .001)and not significantly different from those of former smokers with 5 to 15 pack years (p = 0.9). Median overall survival for “collegiate smokers” was 25 months, compared to 32 months for never smokers (p = 0.4), 33 months for former smokers with 5–15 pack years (p = 0.48),and 21 months for former smokers with ≥ 15 pack years (p = 0.63).
“Collegiate smokers” with advanced stage lung cancers represent a distinct subgroup of patients with a higher frequency of KRAS mutations and lower frequency of EGFR mutations compared to never smokers. These observations reinforce the recommendation for routine mutation testing for all patients with lung cancers and that no degree of tobacco exposure is safe.
PMCID: PMC3534987  PMID: 23242442
Collegiate Smokers; non-small cell lung cancers; epidermal growth factor receptor mutation; KRAS mutation
17.  Evaluation of the Lung Cancer Risks at Which to Screen Ever- and Never-Smokers: Screening Rules Applied to the PLCO and NLST Cohorts 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(12):e1001764.
Martin Tammemägi and colleagues evaluate which risk groups of individuals, including nonsmokers and high-risk individuals from 65 to 80 years of age, should be screened for lung cancer using computed tomography.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Lung cancer risks at which individuals should be screened with computed tomography (CT) for lung cancer are undecided. This study's objectives are to identify a risk threshold for selecting individuals for screening, to compare its efficiency with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) criteria for identifying screenees, and to determine whether never-smokers should be screened. Lung cancer risks are compared between smokers aged 55–64 and ≥65–80 y.
Methods and Findings
Applying the PLCOm2012 model, a model based on 6-y lung cancer incidence, we identified the risk threshold above which National Lung Screening Trial (NLST, n = 53,452) CT arm lung cancer mortality rates were consistently lower than rates in the chest X-ray (CXR) arm. We evaluated the USPSTF and PLCOm2012 risk criteria in intervention arm (CXR) smokers (n = 37,327) of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO). The numbers of smokers selected for screening, and the sensitivities, specificities, and positive predictive values (PPVs) for identifying lung cancers were assessed. A modified model (PLCOall2014) evaluated risks in never-smokers. At PLCOm2012 risk ≥0.0151, the 65th percentile of risk, the NLST CT arm mortality rates are consistently below the CXR arm's rates. The number needed to screen to prevent one lung cancer death in the 65th to 100th percentile risk group is 255 (95% CI 143 to 1,184), and in the 30th to <65th percentile risk group is 963 (95% CI 291 to −754); the number needed to screen could not be estimated in the <30th percentile risk group because of absence of lung cancer deaths. When applied to PLCO intervention arm smokers, compared to the USPSTF criteria, the PLCOm2012 risk ≥0.0151 threshold selected 8.8% fewer individuals for screening (p<0.001) but identified 12.4% more lung cancers (sensitivity 80.1% [95% CI 76.8%–83.0%] versus 71.2% [95% CI 67.6%–74.6%], p<0.001), had fewer false-positives (specificity 66.2% [95% CI 65.7%–66.7%] versus 62.7% [95% CI 62.2%–63.1%], p<0.001), and had higher PPV (4.2% [95% CI 3.9%–4.6%] versus 3.4% [95% CI 3.1%–3.7%], p<0.001). In total, 26% of individuals selected for screening based on USPSTF criteria had risks below the threshold PLCOm2012 risk ≥0.0151. Of PLCO former smokers with quit time >15 y, 8.5% had PLCOm2012 risk ≥0.0151. None of 65,711 PLCO never-smokers had PLCOm2012 risk ≥0.0151. Risks and lung cancers were significantly greater in PLCO smokers aged ≥65–80 y than in those aged 55–64 y. This study omitted cost-effectiveness analysis.
The USPSTF criteria for CT screening include some low-risk individuals and exclude some high-risk individuals. Use of the PLCOm2012 risk ≥0.0151 criterion can improve screening efficiency. Currently, never-smokers should not be screened. Smokers aged ≥65–80 y are a high-risk group who may benefit from screening.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Lung cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in the world and the most common cause of cancer-related deaths. Like all cancers, lung cancer occurs when cells acquire genetic changes that allow them to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body (metastasize). The most common trigger for these genetic changes in lung cancer is exposure to cigarette smoke. Symptoms of lung cancer include a persistent cough and breathlessness. If lung cancer is diagnosed when it is confined to the lung (stage I), the tumor can often be removed surgically. Stage II tumors, which have spread into nearby lymph nodes, are usually treated with surgery plus chemotherapy or radiotherapy. For more advanced lung cancers that have spread throughout the chest (stage III) or the body (stage IV), surgery is rarely helpful and these tumors are treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy alone. Overall, because most lung cancers are not detected until they are advanced, less than 17% of people diagnosed with lung cancer survive for five years.
Why Was This Study Done?
Screening for lung cancer—looking for early disease in healthy people—could save lives. In the US National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), annual screening with computed tomography (CT) reduced lung cancer mortality by 20% among smokers at high risk of developing cancer compared with screening with a chest X-ray. But what criteria should be used to decide who is screened for lung cancer? The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), for example, recommends annual CT screening of people who are 55–80 years old, have smoked 30 or more pack-years (one pack-year is defined as a pack of cigarettes per day for one year), and—if they are former smokers—quit smoking less than 15 years ago. However, some experts think lung cancer risk prediction models—statistical models that estimate risk based on numerous personal characteristics—should be used to select people for screening. Here, the researchers evaluate PLCOm2012, a lung cancer risk prediction model based on the incidence of lung cancer among smokers enrolled in the US Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO). Specifically, the researchers use NLST and PLCO screening trial data to identify a PLCOm2012 risk threshold for selecting people for screening and to compare the efficiency of the PLCOm2012 model and the USPSTF criteria for identifying “screenees.”
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
By analyzing NLST data, the researchers calculated that at PLCOm2012 risk ≥0.0151, mortality (death) rates among NLST participants screened with CT were consistently below mortality rates among NLST participants screened with chest X-ray and that 255 people with a PLCOm2012 risk ≥0.0151 would need to be screened to prevent one lung cancer death. Next, they used data collected from smokers in the screened arm of the PLCO trial to compare the efficiency of the PLCOm2012 and USPSTF criteria for identifying screenees. They found that 8.8% fewer people had a PLCOm2012 risk ≥0.0151 than met USPSTF criteria for screening, but 12.4% more lung cancers were identified. Thus, using PLCOm2012 improved the sensitivity and specificity of the selection of individuals for lung cancer screening over using UPSTF criteria. Notably, 8.5% of PLCO former smokers with quit times of more than 15 years had PLCOm2012 risk ≥0.0151, none of the PLCO never-smokers had PLCOm2012 risk ≥0.0151, and the calculated risks and incidence of lung cancer were greater among PLCO smokers aged ≥65–80 years than among those aged 55–64 years.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Despite the absence of a cost-effectiveness analysis in this study, these findings suggest that the use of the PLCOm2012 risk ≥0.0151 threshold rather than USPSTF criteria for selecting individuals for lung cancer screening could improve screening efficiency. The findings have several other important implications. First, these findings suggest that screening may be justified in people who stopped smoking more than 15 years ago; USPSTF currently recommends that screening stop once an individual's quit time exceeds 15 years. Second, these findings do not support lung cancer screening among never-smokers. Finally, these findings suggest that smokers aged ≥65–80 years might benefit from screening, although the presence of additional illnesses and reduced life expectancy need to be considered before recommending the provision of routine lung cancer screening to this section of the population.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Cancer Institute provides information about all aspects of lung cancer for patients and health-care professionals, including information on lung cancer screening (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK also provides detailed information about lung cancer and about lung cancer screening
The UK National Health Service Choices website has a page on lung cancer that includes personal stories
MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information about lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Information about the USPSTF recommendations for lung cancer screening is available
PMCID: PMC4251899  PMID: 25460915
18.  Frequency of EGFR Mutations in 907 Lung Adenocarcioma Patients of Indian Ethnicity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76164.
During the past decade, the incidence of EGFR mutation has been shown to vary across different ethnicities. It occurs at the rate of 10–15% in North Americans and Europeans, 19% in African-Americans, 20–30% in various East Asian series including Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese. Frequency of EGFR mutations in India however remains sparsely explored.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We report 23% incidence of Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations in 907 Non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients of Indian ethnicity, in contrast to 10–15% known in Caucasians and 27–62% among East Asians. In this study, EGFR mutations were found to be more common in never-smokers 29.4% as compared to smokers 15.3%. Consistent with other populations, mutation rates among adenocarcinoma-males were predominantly lower than females with 32% incidence. However unlike Caucasians, EGFR mutation rate among adenocarcinoma-never-smoker females were comparable to males suggesting lack of gender bias among never smokers likely to benefit from EGFR targeted therapy.
This study has an overall implication for establishing relevance for routine EGFR mutation diagnostics for NSCLC patients in clinics and emphasizes effectiveness for adoption of EGFR inhibitors as the first line treatment among Indian population. The intermediate frequency of EGFR mutation among Indian population compared to Caucasians and East Asians is reminiscent of an ancestral admixture of genetic influence from Middle Easterners, Central Asians, and Europeans on modern- Indian population that may confer differential susceptibility to somatic mutations in EGFR.
PMCID: PMC3790706  PMID: 24124538
19.  Randomized Phase II Trial of Erlotinib Alone or With Carboplatin and Paclitaxel in Patients Who Were Never or Light Former Smokers With Advanced Lung Adenocarcinoma: CALGB 30406 Trial 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(17):2063-2069.
Erlotinib is clinically effective in patients with non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have adenocarcinoma, are never or limited former smokers, or have EGFR mutant tumors. We investigated the efficacy of erlotinib alone or in combination with chemotherapy in patients with these characteristics.
Patients and Methods
Patients with advanced NSCLC (adenocarcinoma) who were epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor and chemotherapy naive never or light former smokers (smokers of > 100 cigarettes and ≤ 10 pack years and quit ≥ 1 year ago) were randomly assigned to continuous erlotinib or in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel (ECP) for six cycles followed by erlotinib alone. The primary end point was progression-free survival (PFS). Tissue collection was mandatory.
PFS was similar (5.0 v 6.6 months; P = .1988) in patients randomly assigned to erlotinib alone (arm A; n = 81) or to ECP (arm B; n = 100). EGFR mutation analysis was possible in 91% (164 of 181) of patients, and EGFR mutations were detected in 40% (51 of 128) of never smokers and in 42% (15 of 36) of light former smokers. In arm A, response rate (70% v 9%), PFS (14.1 v 2.6 months), and overall survival (OS; 31.3 v 18.1 month) favored EGFR-mutant patients. In arm B, response rate (73% v 30%), PFS (17.2 v 4.8 months), and OS (38.1 v 14.4 months) favored EGFR-mutant patients. Incidence of grades 3 to 4 hematologic (2% v 49%; P < .001) and nonhematologic (24% v 52%; P < .001) toxicity was greater in patients treated with ECP.
Erlotinib and erlotinib plus chemotherapy have similar efficacy in clinically selected populations of patients with advanced NSCLC. EGFR mutations identify patients most likely to benefit.
PMCID: PMC3397694  PMID: 22547605
20.  Differences in EGFR and KRAS mutation spectra in lung adenocarcinoma of never and heavy smokers 
Oncology Letters  2013;6(5):1207-1212.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations are common in lung adenocarcinomas of never smokers, while KRAS mutations are more frequent among heavy smokers. Different clinicopathological and biological characteristics may, therefore, exist in lung adenocarcinoma according to smoking status. In the present study, a retrospective review was performed using 521 patients with surgically resected lung adenocarcinomas. The clinicopathological factors of age, gender, pathological tumor size, nodal status, lymphatic permeation and blood vessel invasion and the EGFR and KRAS mutation spectra were compared between never and heavy smokers. EGFR mutations were detected in 233 (45%) patients, while KRAS mutations were detected in 56 (11%) patients. EGFR-mutated adenocarcinomas had a higher prevalence of females in the never smokers compared with the heavy smokers (P<0.001). KRAS-mutated adenocarcinomas had a higher prevalence of females (P<0.001) and showed less frequent vascular invasion (P=0.018) in the never smokers compared with the heavy smokers. Minor EGFR mutations, excluding exon 21 L858R and exon 19 deletions, were more common in heavy smokers than never smokers (P=0.055). KRAS G to A transition was more common in never smokers, while KRAS G to T and G to C transversions were more common in heavy smokers (P=0.036). The clinicopathological characteristics and the spectra of the EGFR and KRAS mutations in lung adenocarcinoma were different between the never and heavy smokers. Further large-scale studies are required to evaluate the efficacy of molecular targeting agents with consideration to specific EGFR and KRAS mutations.
PMCID: PMC3813793  PMID: 24179496
lung cancer; adenocarcinoma; smoking; epidermal growth factor receptor; KRAS; mutation
21.  Integrative Genomic Analyses Identify BRF2 as a Novel Lineage-Specific Oncogene in Lung Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(7):e1000315.
William Lockwood and colleagues show that the focal amplification of a gene, BRF2, on Chromosome 8p12 plays a key role in squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.
Traditionally, non-small cell lung cancer is treated as a single disease entity in terms of systemic therapy. Emerging evidence suggests the major subtypes—adenocarcinoma (AC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC)—respond differently to therapy. Identification of the molecular differences between these tumor types will have a significant impact in designing novel therapies that can improve the treatment outcome.
Methods and Findings
We used an integrative genomics approach, combing high-resolution comparative genomic hybridization and gene expression microarray profiles, to compare AC and SqCC tumors in order to uncover alterations at the DNA level, with corresponding gene transcription changes, which are selected for during development of lung cancer subtypes. Through the analysis of multiple independent cohorts of clinical tumor samples (>330), normal lung tissues and bronchial epithelial cells obtained by bronchial brushing in smokers without lung cancer, we identified the overexpression of BRF2, a gene on Chromosome 8p12, which is specific for development of SqCC of lung. Genetic activation of BRF2, which encodes a RNA polymerase III (Pol III) transcription initiation factor, was found to be associated with increased expression of small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) that are involved in processes essential for cell growth, such as RNA splicing. Ectopic expression of BRF2 in human bronchial epithelial cells induced a transformed phenotype and demonstrates downstream oncogenic effects, whereas RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated knockdown suppressed growth and colony formation of SqCC cells overexpressing BRF2, but not AC cells. Frequent activation of BRF2 in >35% preinvasive bronchial carcinoma in situ, as well as in dysplastic lesions, provides evidence that BRF2 expression is an early event in cancer development of this cell lineage.
This is the first study, to our knowledge, to show that the focal amplification of a gene in Chromosome 8p12, plays a key role in squamous cell lineage specificity of the disease. Our data suggest that genetic activation of BRF2 represents a unique mechanism of SqCC lung tumorigenesis through the increase of Pol III-mediated transcription. It can serve as a marker for lung SqCC and may provide a novel target for therapy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer-related death. Every year, 1.3 million people die from this disease, which is mainly caused by smoking. Most cases of lung cancer are “non-small cell lung cancers” (NSCLCs). Like all cancers, NSCLC starts when cells begin to divide uncontrollably and to move round the body (metastasize) because of changes (mutations) in their genes. These mutations are often in “oncogenes,” genes that, when activated, encourage cell division. Oncogenes can be activated by mutations that alter the properties of the proteins they encode or by mutations that increase the amount of protein made from them, such as gene amplification (an increase in the number of copies of a gene). If NSCLC is diagnosed before it has spread from the lungs (stage I disease), it can be surgically removed and many patients with stage I NSCLC survive for more than 5 years after their diagnosis. Unfortunately, in more than half of patients, NSCLC has metastasized before it is diagnosed. This stage IV NSCLC can be treated with chemotherapy (toxic chemicals that kill fast-growing cancer cells) but only 2% of patients with stage IV lung cancer are alive 5 years after diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Traditionally, NSCLC has been regarded as a single disease in terms of treatment. However, emerging evidence suggests that the two major subtypes of NSCLC—adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC)—respond differently to chemotherapy. Adenocarcinoma and SqCC start in different types of lung cell and experts think that for each cell type in the body, specific combinations of mutations interact with the cell type's own unique characteristics to provide the growth and survival advantage needed for cancer development. If this is true, then identifying the molecular differences between adenocarcinoma and SqCC could provide targets for more effective therapies for these major subtypes of NSCLC. Amplification of a chromosome region called 8p12 is very common in NSCLC, which suggests that an oncogene that drives lung cancer development is present in this chromosome region. In this study, the researchers investigate this possibility by looking for an amplified gene in the 8p12 chromosome region that makes increased amounts of protein in lung SqCC but not in lung adenocarcinoma.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a technique called comparative genomic hybridization to show that focal regions of Chromosome 8p are amplified in about 40% of lung SqCCs, but that DNA loss in this region is the most common alteration in lung adenocarcinomas. Ten genes in the 8p12 chromosome region were expressed at higher levels in the SqCC samples that they examined than in adenocarcinoma samples, they report, and overexpression of five of these genes correlated with amplification of the 8p12 region in the SqCC samples. Only one of the genes—BRF2—was more highly expressed in squamous carcinoma cells than in normal bronchial epithelial cells (the cell type that lines the tubes that take air into the lungs and from which SqCC develops). Artificially induced expression of BRF2 in bronchial epithelial cells made these normal cells behave like tumor cells, whereas reduction of BRF2 expression in squamous carcinoma cells made them behave more like normal bronchial epithelial cells. Finally, BRF2 was frequently activated in two early stages of squamous cell carcinoma—bronchial carcinoma in situ and dysplastic lesions.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Together, these findings show that the focal amplification of chromosome region 8p12 plays a role in the development of lung SqCC but not in the development of lung adenocarcinoma, the other major subtype of NSCLC. These findings identify BRF2 (which encodes a RNA polymerase III transcription initiation factor, a protein that is required for the synthesis of RNA molecules that help to control cell growth) as a lung SqCC-specific oncogene and uncover a unique mechanism for lung SqCC development. Most importantly, these findings suggest that genetic activation of BRF2 could be used as a marker for lung SqCC, which might facilitate the early detection of this type of NSCLC and that BRF2 might provide a new target for therapy.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and professionals about all aspects of lung cancer, including information on non-small cell carcinoma (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK also provides information about lung cancer and information on how cancer starts
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC2910599  PMID: 20668658
22.  Post-Progression Survival in Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer with Clinically Acquired Resistance to Gefitinib 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2013;28(11):1595-1602.
Most patients with tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI)-sensitive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) eventually develop acquired resistance to TKIs. Factors that affect TKI-sensitive patient survival after progression during TKI treatment remain unknown. We attempted to identify factors that affected post-progression survival. We retrospectively reviewed 81 advanced NSCLC patients with disease progression following tumor response and durable (≥ 6 months) disease stabilization with first-line or second-line gefitinib. Post-progression survival (PPS) and characteristics were investigated and compared in patients who did (n = 16) and did not (n = 65) resume TKIs. Most patients were female never-smokers with adenocarcinoma. Median overall PPS was 10.3 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 7.458-13.142). Age, gender, smoking history, histology, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status at gefitinib initiation, initial stage, and platinum-based chemotherapy after gefitinib were not significant predictors of PPS. Pemetrexed use after gefitinib significantly improved PPS (18.5 vs 8.6 months; hazard ratio [HR], 0.45; P = 0.008). Gefitinib reuse tended to lengthen PPS but was insignificant in multivariate analysis (27.4 vs 8.8 months; HR, 0.53; P = 0.095). NSCLC patients assumed to have clinically acquired resistance to TKIs had relatively long PPS. TKIs reuse or pemetrexed use after progression with gefitinib may improve PPS.
PMCID: PMC3835500  PMID: 24265521
Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung; Gefitinib; Survival; Pemetrexed
23.  Lung cancer in lifelong non-smokers. Edinburgh Lung Cancer Group. 
Thorax  1991;46(8):565-568.
The Edinburgh Lung Cancer Group registered 3070 new patients with lung cancer in the five years 1981-5 from a catchment population of 950,000. After review only 74 (2%) were classified as lifelong non-smokers. They differed significantly from the 2996 smokers with lung cancer in that far more were female (77% v 26%) and their mean age was higher (75.4 v 68.0 years). More were in the worst Karnofsky performance categories and fewer patients underwent surgery. The stages of disease were similarly distributed in the two groups and the five year survival was equally poor (5%). Histological cell type was determined in 59 of the 74 patients. All histological cell types were present. More non-smokers had adenocarcinoma than smokers (42% v 13%) and fewer had squamous cell carcinoma (32% v 49%) or small cell carcinoma (15% v 24%). Lung cancer in lifelong non-smokers is uncommon and the diagnosis should therefore always be questioned.
PMCID: PMC463274  PMID: 1656541
24.  Prognostic factors for limited-stage small cell lung cancer: A study of 284 patients 
Combined modality therapy is the standard care for limited stage-small cell lung cancer (LS-SCLC) and has led to a significant improvement in patients’ survival. This study sought to investigate and define the importance of prognostic effects of known and controversial factors especially the impact of smoking status and treatment strategies. A total of 284 patients with LS-SCLC diagnosed and prospectively followed from 1997 to 2008 at Mayo Clinic; their characteristics and survival outcome were assessed on the basis of age, gender, smoking history, performance status (PS), tumor recurrence or progression, and treatment using Cox proportional hazards models. Our main results are as follows: (1) Although neither smoking status (former or current smokers) nor intensity (pack-years smoked) at the time of SCLC diagnosis were significant survival predictors, compared to continued smokers (who never quit smoking), patients who quit at or after diagnosis cut the risk of death by 45% (HR=0.55, 95% CI 0.38–0.79); patients who quit before lung cancer diagnosis also experienced survival benefit (HR=0.72, 95% CI 0.52–1.00). (2) Thoracic radiotherapy and platinum-based chemotherapy could significantly improve survival but the timing (within or after one month of diagnosis) of starting chemotherapy or radiation therapy did not. (3) After adjusting for other known factors, a lower PS did not predict poorer survival, suggesting PS should not be the only factor for making treatment decisions. In conclusion, this study demonstrated the negative impact of continued cigarette smoking on survival; therefore, clinicians and all care providers should strongly encourage smoking cessation at diagnosis of LS-SCLC.
PMCID: PMC2815153  PMID: 19497635
Limited stage-small cell lung cancer; prognosis; cigarette smoking; chemotherapy; radiotherapy; performance status
25.  Non-small cell lung cancer with EML4-ALK translocation in Chinese male never-smokers is characterized with early-onset 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):834.
The translocations of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene with the echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4 (EML4) gene on chromosome 2p have been identified in non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) as oncogenic driver mutations. It has been suggested that EML4-ALK fusion is associated with the resistance in NSCLCs to epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR TKIs), such as gefitinib and erlotinib. In contrast, ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitor (ALK TKI) crizotinib has shown superior effects in combating NSCLCs with EML4-ALK. Thus, characterization of EML4-ALK fusion genes and clinical features of resulting carcinomas would be a great benefit to disease diagnosis and designing customized treatment plans. Studies have suggested that EML4-ALK translocation occurs more frequently in never-smokers with NSCLC, especially in female patients. However, it is not clear whether this is the case in male patients, too. In this study, we have determined the frequency of EML4-ALK translocation in male never-smokers with NSCLC in a cohort of Chinese patients. The clinical features associated with EML4-ALK translocation were also investigated.
A cohort of 95 Chinese male never-smokers with NSCLC was enrolled in this study. EML4-ALK fusion genes were detected using one-step real time RT-PCR and DNA sequencing. We further determined the expression levels of ALK mRNA by RT-PCR and ALK protein by immunohistochemistry in these specimens. The clinical features of EML4-ALK–positive carcinomas were also determined.
We have identified EML4-ALK fusion genes in 8 out of 95 carcinoma cases, accounting for 8.42% in Chinese male never-smokers with NSCLC. It is significantly higher than that in all Chinese male patients (3.44%) regardless smoking habit. It is also significantly higher than that in all Chinese smokers (8/356 or 2.25%) or in smokers worldwide (2.9%) by comparing to published data. Interestingly, EML4-ALK fusion genes are more frequently found in younger patients and associated with less-differentiated carcinomas.
The frequency of EML4-ALK translocation is strongly associated with smoking habits in Chinese male patients with higher frequency in male never-smokers. EML4-ALK translocation is associated with early-onset and less-differentiated carcinomas.
PMCID: PMC4240865  PMID: 25407901
Non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs); Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK); Echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4 (EML4); Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs); Never-smokers; Adenocarcinoma

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