(RxWiki News) Following the smoke led one researcher to an interesting piece of science regarding cancer metabolism, and led her to develop a model showing likelihood of cancer recurrence.
The unknown link between tobacco use and squamous cell carcinoma, a common cancer of the head and neck, led one researcher to examine the genetic basis of that relationship.
It turns out that tobacco smoke is processed, or metabolized, by a protein known as cytochrome P450, also known as CYP1B1.
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Ekaterina Shatalova, PhD, from Fox Chase Center Center, analyzed the cytochrome P450 gene in samples from 155 patients who had squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
Patients with a type of that gene called N453S were both less likely to have the cancer recur, and were disease-free longer if it did return.
Looking at the protein further, research found that since estrogen influences metabolism, this protein may be the reason why women with recurring squamous cell cancer developed the second cancer in less time.
In conclusion, the researchers were able to explain the link between gender, tobacco use and cancer of the head and neck, as well as identify several genetic variants that influence the prognosis of the cancer.
Using this information to perform genetic testing on cancer patients can allow doctors to identify who would benefit the most from aggressive treatment, and act accordingly.
Researchers plan to test their results in a second, larger study.
Study information and findings presented as an abstract is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
No financial relationships were publicly disclosed by the authors of this study.