Lung cancer manifests differently in younger patients

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As recently as 10 to 20 years ago, it didn’t matter if someone smoked or not. Everyone who had lung cancer received the same treatment. Now oncologists know that there are differences among cancers based on whether someone was a smoker or not. And they’re learning that age at diagnosis is also an important differentiator when it comes to treatment and prognosis.

Young lung cancer patients are more likely to be female, to have adenocarcinomas (as opposed to squamous cell carcinomas, the other main type of non-small cell lung cancer) and to have advanced lung cancer at diagnosis. They’re also less likely to have ever been a smoker, and they usually have a more aggressive cancer.

[Medical oncologist Geoffrey] Oxnard says that when he and his colleagues analyzed the DNA from thousands of tumor samples from lung cancer patients, there were clear differences. Younger patients (typically ages 45 or 50) were more likely to have one of the identified genetic mutations found in advanced non-small cell lung cancers.

Traditionally, youth was not a classic biomarker, or identifier, for cancer treatment, Oxnard says. “Oncologists are open to the idea that cancer in outliers [patients who differ from the majority in some way, such as age] might be different and might need different treatment.”

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Understanding Lung Cancers in Younger Patients

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