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The lung cancer gene has recently been identified as a possible cause of lung cancer. Although the disease is normally associated with external causes such as cigarette smoking, researchers have discovered a possible inherited component for lung cancer. Research shows strong evidence that a lung cancer susceptibility gene is co-inherited with a genetic marker on chromosome 6. Identifying the location of the lung cancer gene was a critical first step, but more research needs to be done.

Lung Cancer Gene: An Overview

Researchers have discovered a possible inherited component for lung cancer, a disease normally associated with external causes, such as cigarette smoking. An interdisciplinary consortium consisting of 12 research institutions and universities identified a major lung cancer susceptibility region on a segment of chromosome 6. The findings appeared in the September 2004 issue of American Journal of Human Genetics.
 

Specific Studies on the Lung Cancer Gene

The study examined 52 families who had at least three first-degree family members affected by lung, throat, or laryngeal cancer. Of these 52 families, 36 had affected members in at least two generations. Using 392 known genetic markers, which are DNA sequences that are known to be common sites of genetic variation, the researchers generated and then compared the alleles (the different variations each gene can take) of all affected and non-affected family members who were willing to participate in the study.
 
The researchers found strong evidence that a lung cancer susceptibility gene or genes is co-inherited with a genetic marker on chromosome 6. Markers on chromosomes 12, 14, and 20 also indicated possible linkage to lung cancer susceptibility, although the results were not as strong. Identifying the locus was a critical first step, but more work needs to be done.
 
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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