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Whole Genome Sequencing of Asian Lung Cancers: Second Hand Smoke is Not Responsible for Higher Incidence of Lung Cancer Among Asian Never-Smokers

Background Asian nonsmoking populations have a higher incidence of lung cancer compared to their European counterparts. There is a long-standing hypothesis that the increase of lung cancer in Asian never-smokers is due to environmental factors such as second-hand smoke. Results We analyzed whole-genome sequencing of 30 Asian lung cancers. Unsupervised clustering of mutational signatures separated the patients into two categories: i) all of the never-smokers, and ii) only smokers or ex-smokers. Half of the ex-smokers / smokers were in the never-smoker-like cluster. The overall somatic variant profiles of Asian lung cancers were similar to that of European origin with G.C>T.A being predominant in smokers. We found EGFR and TP53 are the most frequently mutated genes with mutations in 50% and 27% of individuals, respectively. Among these Asian never-smokers, 71% had an EGFR mutation compared to 20% of the smokers in the smoking cluster. Other frequently mutated genes include RYR2, SATB2, C1orf88, FERMT1 and CTNNB1. Somatic alterations occurred in WNT signaling pathway genes, suggesting this pathway plays a role in both Western and Asian lung cancers. Conclusions Asian never-smokers have lung cancer signatures distinct from the smoker signature and their mutation profiles are similar to that of European never-smokers. The profiles of Asian and European smokers are also similar. This suggests that the same mutational mechanisms underlie the etiology for both ethnic groups, and the high incidence of lung cancer in Asian never-smokers might not be due to second hand smoke or other carcinogens that cause oxidative DNA damage. Half of the ex-smokers/smokers have a molecular phenotype similar to never-smokers; of which, 50% had EGFR mutations. This suggests that routine EGFR testing is warranted in the Asian population, regardless of smoking status.

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Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001001240 30
Publications Citations
Whole-genome sequencing of asian lung cancers: second-hand smoke unlikely to be responsible for higher incidence of lung cancer among Asian never-smokers.
Cancer Res 74: 2014 6071-6081