An analysis of genetic and clinical data for nearly 800 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has identified differences in genetic characteristics that are associated with age- and sex-specific patterns of increased or decreased recurrence-free survival, a new study has found.
Researchers examined clinically relevant differences in the underlying biology of NSCLC based on patient age and sex. The study consisted of an analysis, performed from July 2008 to June 2009, of 787 patients with predominantly early-stage NSCLC.
Lung tumour samples with corresponding microarray and clinical data were used. All patients were divided into subgroups based on sex and age – patients less than 70 years of age versus patients aged 70 years or older.
Low- and high-risk patient clusters/groups were identified with the longest and shortest five-year recurrence-free survival, respectively, within the age and sex NSCLC subgroups.
The researchers found that these cohorts of NSCLC demonstrated unique patterns of pathway activation. In patients younger than 70 years, high-risk patients, with the shortest recurrence-free survival, demonstrated increased significantly activation of the Src gene and tumour necrosis factor pathways compared with low-risk patients.
High-risk patients aged 70 years or older demonstrated increased activation of the wound healing and invasiveness pathways compared with low-risk patients. The researchers also found a difference in the biology of lung cancer between men and women.
“We believe our findings represent a novel approach to defining clinically relevant cohorts of NSCLC stratified by age and sex that are enriched for specific pathway activity and that would be more apt for therapeutic intervention when planning clinical trials with drugs that target specific pathway-related abnormalities or tumour biology,” the researchers reported.
“With genomic assays now being increasingly practical and clinically applicable, with turnaround times of five to seven days, we believe our findings, while hypothesis generating and needing further validation, represent a step forward in defining pathway-driven cohorts of NSCLC that likely explain the age- and sex-specific differences seen in NSCLC.”