Cytogenetic and molecular aspects of lung cancer

Cancer Lett. 2006 Jul 28;239(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2005.06.030. Epub 2005 Aug 19.


Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide and its pathogenesis is closely associated with tobacco smoking. Continuous exposure of smoking carcinogens results in the accumulation of several alterations of tumorigenesis related genes leading to neoplastic bronchial lesions. Lung cancer is divided in two main histological groups, non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLCs) and small cell lung carcinomas (SCLCs). It seems that lung tumorigenesis is a multistep process in which a number of genetic events including alterations of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes have been occurred. Cytogenetic abnormalities in lung cancer are very complex. However, a number of recurrent cytogenetic abnormalities have been identified. Many of these changes are common in both major histological groups of lung cancer while certain chromosomal abnormalities have been correlated with the stage or the grade of the tumors. In addition, several molecular alterations have been constantly found. Some of them are common in different histological subtypes of lung cancer and they appear to play an important role in the pathogenesis of lung cancer. A good understanding of the underlying genetic changes of lung tumorigenesis will provide new perspectives for early diagnosis and screening of high-risk individuals. In addition, a number of genetical prognostic factors have been identified as possibly helpful parameters in the evaluation of lung cancer patients. Further research is required in order to systematically investigate genetical alterations in lung cancer contributing to improvement of lung cancer classification and staging and to development of new molecular targeted therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / pathology
  • Cytogenetic Analysis
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism


  • Neoplasm Proteins