Cigarette smoking is strongly associated with mutation of the K-ras gene in patients with primary adenocarcinoma of the lung

Cancer. 2001 Sep 15;92(6):1525-30. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(20010915)92:6<1525::aid-cncr1478>;2-h.


Background: The majority of lung carcinoma cases occur in current or former smokers. K-ras gene mutations are common in lung adenocarcinoma and have been associated with cigarette smoking, asbestos exposure, and female gender.

Methods: In the current study, the authors examined the contribution of cigarette smoking to K-ras gene mutations in patients with primary lung adenocarcinoma. Smoking histories were obtained from 106 prospectively enrolled patients with primary adenocarcinoma of the lung.

Results: K-ras mutations were detected in the primary tumor using an allele-specific ligation assay. Ninety-two of the 106 patients (87%) with lung adenocarcinoma were smokers. Nonsmokers with this tumor were more likely to be women (11 of 14; 79%), whereas the majority of smokers (57%) were men. K-ras mutations were detected in 40 of 106 tumors (38%) and were significantly more common in smokers compared with nonsmokers (43% vs. 0%; P = 0.001).

Conclusions: The results of the current study confirm and extend previous observations that smokers with adenocarcinoma of the lung are more likely to have K-ras mutant tumors compared with nonsmokers. The strong link between cigarette smoking and K-ras mutations in adenocarcinoma of the lung supports the role of specific tobacco carcinogens in the etiology of this malignancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / immunology*
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Genes, ras / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mutation*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*