Being of African American or Caucasian descent does not determine the likelihood of genomic mutations in a lung tumor, according to a study published in JAMA.1

Frequency of acquired genetic alterations in lung tumors can vary based on sex, smoking status, and ancestry. Researchers analyzed 504 genes to determine whether a difference in genetic aberrations contributed to the higher lung cancer-related mortality rate in the African American population.

Lung tumor specimens were collected from the Baptist Cancer Center in Memphis, Tennessee. Race was categorized by patient self-identification.

Continue Reading

Over 500 tumor specimens from 245 African American and 264 Caucasian patients were analyzed. Copy number changes and frequency of mutation were not different between the groups. There was no significant difference in mutation frequencies of any gene, including EGFR and KRAS.

RELATED: Proportion of Untreated Stage III-IV Lung Cancers Increasing

The authors concluded that factors aside from heritage—such as smoking—could play a role in the increased mortality rate in the African American population. Gene sequencing should be used equally among populations to target therapies and decrease overall morbidity and mortality.


  1. Campbell JD, Lathan C, Sholl L, et al. Comparison of prevalence and types of mutations in lung cancers among black and white populations. JAMA. 2017 Jan 19. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.6108 [Epub ahead of print]