Genetic Characteristics of Women With Lung Cancer Differ Depending on Smoking History

Few studies so far have focused specifically on lung cancer in women, despite increasing evidence of differences in lung cancer features between women and men. A striking example is the higher rate among women of nonsmokers who develop lung cancer. A recent study of women with lung adenocarcinoma, a type of non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), found that those who had never smoked were much more likely to have mutations in the EGFR gene and/or abnormally high levels of estrogen receptors, while smokers were more likely to have mutations in the KRAS gene. Based on these findings, a new phase II clinical trial will explore the effectiveness of treating postmenopausal, nonsmoking women who have advanced non-squamous lung cancer with EGFR inhibitors and anti-estrogen drugs.