A Singapore lead study has revealed that lung cancer tumours in Asians are genetically more complex than previously thought, making them more difficult to treat.
The recently published report, which was a joint venture between the Genome Institute of Singapore and the National Cancer Centre of Singapore, analysed 79 tumour sections from patients throughout the region.
It showed that Cancer cells in the lungs of Asian patients took more varied genetic mutations than those in Caucasian patients.
Dr Tam Wai Leong, one of the study’s principal investigators explained the findings.
He said: “We like to think that tumours contain cancer cells that are all the same, but surprisingly enough, cancer cells within a tumour may bear different genetic mutations to varying extents.
“Our study revealed that cancer cells in lung tumours of Asian patients appeared to have more varied genetic mutations than lung tumours of Caucasian patients.
"Additional genetic mutations can make Asian lung tumours harder to treat, as they tend to adapt and resist the drugs that are administered.”
Dr Tam and his colleagues spotted the mutations in more than 50% of Singaporean lung cancer patients - and it was especially prevalent in non-smoking women.
Dr Daniel Tan, senior consultant medical oncologist at the National Cancer Centre Singapore, hopes that the study’s findings can be used to reduce the death rate, with the condition considered the country’s biggest killer.
He added: “Further work needs to focus on identifying drug combinations or treatment strategies that take into account the tumours' ability to develop resistance to different treatments.”
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