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Department of Oncology


New research has shown that the underlying genetic background influences how people respond to cigarette smoke and can affect lung cancer risk. 

This study, published in Genome Medicine (link is external), involved analysis of differences in gene expression in cells lining the nose of smokers with and without lung cancer compared with healthy volunteers, revealing that immune and inflammatory alterations increase the risk of lung cancer and this risk can persist for many years after smoking cessation. 

The research, funded by Cancer Research UK, was conducted over the past 10 years by Robert Rintoul (Department of Oncology, CRUK Cambridge Centre Thoracic Cancer Programme and Royal Papworth Hospital) and Bruce Ponder (Emeritus Professor of Oncology, former Director CRUK Cambridge Institute and Centre) in collaboration with colleagues from Cambridge, Berlin and Cologne. 

Robert Rintoul said, "This work is providing new insights into why some people who have smoked develop lung cancer, whereas others don't. Going forward, this may allow us to develop interventions for those at highest risk."