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Gene test could help lung cancer patients

January 08, 2007|From Times wire reports

Testing five genes in tumors might help doctors determine which patients with lung cancer are likely to fare best after surgery and which need the strongest treatments, according to a new study.

A five-gene test distinguished patients who would survive almost 3 1/2 years after diagnosis from those who would live about half as long, said researchers led by Pan-Chyr Yang, an oncologist at National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei, in last week's New England Journal of Medicine.

The new test may help usher in an era of early diagnosis and personalized treatment, Yang said.

"All oncologists have a dream to tailor therapy for cancer patients," Yang said in a telephone interview. "This study gives some evidence that it is possible to classify patients so we can design special strategies for those at highest risk."

Lung cancer is the deadliest type of cancer, each year killing close to 1 million people worldwide, including about 160,000 Americans.

Smoking causes almost all cases of lung cancer, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

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