Emerging ethnic differences in lung cancer therapy

Br J Cancer. 2008 Dec 2;99(11):1757-62. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604721. Epub 2008 Nov 4.


Although global clinical trials for lung cancer can enable the development of new agents efficiently, whether the results of clinical trials performed in one population can be fully extrapolated to another population remains questionable. A comparison of phase III trials for the same drug combinations against lung cancer in different countries shows a great diversity in haematological toxicity. One possible reason for this diversity may be that different ethnic populations may have different physiological capacities for white blood cell production and maturation. In addition, polymorphisms in the promoter and coding regions of drug-metabolising enzymes (e.g., CYP3A4 and UGT1A1) or in transporters (e.g., ABCB1) may vary among different ethnic populations. For example, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors are more effective in Asian patients than in patients of other ethnicities, a characteristic that parallels the incidence of EGFR-activating mutations. Interstitial lung disease associated with the administration of gefitinib is also more common among Japanese patients than among patients of other ethnicities. Although research into these differences has just begun, these studies suggest that possible pharmacogenomic and tumour genetic differences associated with individual responses to anticancer agents should be carefully considered when conducting global clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics


  • Antineoplastic Agents