Magazine article Science News

Active Lung Gene Signals Cancer Spread

Magazine article Science News

Active Lung Gene Signals Cancer Spread

Article excerpt

Even when caught and removed early, lung cancer can be deadly. Roughly onefourth of patients treated for first-stage lung cancer--the kind showing no visible signs of having spread to lymph nodes or other tissues outside the lung--eventually die from a recurrence of the disease.

Scientists in Japan have now discovered a gene that may help physicians determine which patients are more likely to suffer such relapses. The gene, called LUNX, is active only in lung tissue and in tumor tissue that originated there and spread.

The finding could offer physicians a better way to detect cancer that has spread to nearby lymph nodes, the immune tissues that are usually the first stop for cancer outside the organ of its origin, says study coauthor Yoshiyuki Fujiwara, a surgical oncologist at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine. The study appears in the February INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CANCER.

After identifying the LUNX gene on chromosome 20, Fujiwara and his colleagues found that LUNX was active in all normal lung-tissue samples from 31 lung cancer patients. The researchers noted that the gene was revved up even more in nearly all the cancerous tissues from these patients. LUNX wasn't active in tissue samples from stomach, gallbladder, or bile duct cancers.

The researchers also tested for LUNX activation in lymph nodes from another 20 lung cancer patients. According to standard microscope observations of cells, the cancer had spread to nodes near the lungs in five of the patients. …

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