Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Study Finds Ethnic Association With Oncogenic Mutations for Patients With Lung Carcinoma

By: Joshua D. Madera, MS
Posted: Thursday, February 4, 2021

For patients with lung cancer, those of Native American ancestry may be at an increased risk for developing mutations in the EGFR gene, according to a study published in Cancer Discovery. However, this increased susceptibility and its association with genetic and/or environmental factors remain elusive, explained Matthew Meyerson, MD, PhD, of the Center for Cancer Genomics at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, and colleagues.

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality, both in the United States and globally, and understanding inherited risk factors for this disease may help us to identify populations that would benefit from increased screening efforts,” commented Dr. Meyerson in an institutional press release.

A total of 1,153 patients from Mexico (n = 601) and Colombia (n = 552) with lung cancer were recruited for the study. Of this patient population, 499 were nonsmokers. Tumor tissue samples were collected from all patients and assessed for somatic mutations, including EGFR, KRAS, and others. In addition, tumor samples were also utilized to perform ancestry analyses.

The study findings revealed mutations in the EGFR gene were significantly associated with Native American ancestry. These findings were irrespective of smoking status, as both cohorts of patients still demonstrated increased EGFR mutations. Moreover, oncogenic mutations in the EGFR gene were positively associated with Native American ancestry. However, there appeared to be no association between ancestry and non-oncogenic mutations. The oncogenic EGFR mutations were found to have an increased mutation frequency in the local genome compared with the global genome.

“These results suggest that germline genetics—in addition to environmental factors or socioeconomic status—may have an influence on the risk of EGFR-mutant lung cancer among those with Native American ancestry,” Dr. Meyerson commented.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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