A new study published in Science concluded that lung cancer can be dormant for over 20 years before becoming an aggressive form of cancer. Studying 7 patients who were smokers, never smokers, and ex-smokers they found that after the first genetic mistake that caused the cancer it could exist undetected for many years until new additional faults trigger rapid growth of the disease. Their goal is to improve detection and reduce the devastating effect of lung cancer. The researcher says ” Survival from lung cancer remains devastatingly low with many new targeted treatments making a limited impact on the disease. By understanding how it develops we’re opening up the diseases evolutionary ruolwe book in the hope that we can start to predict its next steps.” New information about smoking and lung cancer was also uncovered and many of the early genetic faults are caused by smoking. However, as the disease progresses these become less important with the majority of faults caused by a new process generating mutations within the tumor controlled by a protein called APOBEC. The researcher said “This fascinating research highlights the need to find better ways to detect lung cancer earlier when it’s still following just one evolutionary path. If we can nip the disease in the bud and treat it before it has started traveling down different evolutionary routes we could make a real difference in helping more people survive the disease.” More research is planned.
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