Research & Education

Researchers believe arsenic-induced lung tumors caused by different molecular mechanisms than common lung cancer

Latest in November issue of Journal of Thoracic Oncology
October 30, 2013


The Journal of Thoracic Oncology (JTO) is the IASLC's premier Journal. JTO emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach in the articles accepted for publication, and includes original research (clinical trials and translational or basic research), reviews and opinion pieces. Become a member of IASLC and receive a complimentary subscription to the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

The research below comes from JTO.


Contact: Kristal Griffith

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Release: Oct. 30, 2013



DENVER – Arsenic exposure affects more than 150 million people worldwide. In the UnitedStates alone, it is believed that chronic, low-level exposure to arsenic contributes to as many as 5000 lung cancer cases per year. However, arsenic-related tumors are structurally indistinguishable from those induced by other carcinogens. As a result, researchers from The University of British Columbia sought to characterize the mutational signature of an arsenic-related lung tumor from a never smoker with the use of whole-genome sequencing.

            Their findings are published in the November issue of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer’s journal, the Journal of Thoracic Oncology (JTO).

            Tumor and lung tissues were obtained from a never smoker with lung squamous cell carcinoma, without a family history of lung cancer, who was chronically exposed to high levels of arsenic-contaminated drinking water. The mutational signature was compared with those observed in previously characterized or common lung tumors.

While the arsenic-related tumor exhibited alterations common in lung squamous cell carcinoma, scientists identified a mutation which is uncommon in common lung tumors. As a result, the authors say the evidence supports “the hypothesis that arsenic-induced lung tumors arise through molecular mechanisms that differ from those of the common lung cancer.”

The lead author is IASLC member Victor Martinez. Kelsie Thu, Emily Vucic, Marta Adonis, Lionel Gil, Calum MacAulay, Dr. Stephen Lam, Roland Hubaux and Wan Lam are co-authors and IASLC members.


About the IASLC:

The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) is the only global organization dedicated to the study of lung cancer. Founded in 1974, the association’s membership includes more than 3,500 lung cancer specialists in 80 countries. To learn more about IASLC please visit