The Canadian Press is reporting that new research suggests non-smokers who develop lung cancer might have a different disease than smokers, raising the possibility the two groups should be treated differently.
Researchers at the BC Cancer Agency Research Centre examined the DNA of lung cancer tumours from 83 patients — 30 of whom never smoked.
When they compared those with healthy cells from the same patients, they found differences in how the cancer DNA had been altered depending on whether the patient smoked.
Researcher Kelsie Thu (too) says although the research is very preliminary, the fact that the DNA of cancer cells is different between smokers and non-smokers suggests they could be treated as different diseases.
Wan Lam, a supervising researcher on the project, says exploring the differences between cancers will become even more important as smoking rates continue to fall — and the proportion of lung cancer patients who have never smoked increases.
There are about 24,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year in Canada, and of those, Lung Cancer Canada estimates about 15 per cent involve non-smokers.