Research

Study Finds Biological Differences in Young Adults With Cancer

By John Lugo

Courtesy of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Rhoda Baer

A new study by Foundation Medicine shows there are genomic alterations in the adolescent and young adult population that are different from those in the pediatric or older adult demographic.

Researchers have long believed that there are alterations specific to this population. Now, with this new information, it gets a bit easier to understand the relationship between tumors and a young adult’s body development, which could lead to better ways to approach treatment.

“The results of this study show that the tumors in this population are biologically distinctive in ways that are clinically meaningful and may help guide physicians’ treatment decisions for these patients with approved and emerging targeted therapies,” said Brandon Hayes-Lattin, associate professor of medicine in the hematology/oncology department of Oregon Health and Science University.

In the study of 669 subjects, 71 percent had genomic profiles that could be linked to a targeted therapy or clinical trial. In that 71 percent, potentially actionable genomic alterations were found in 87 percent of breast tumors, 85 percent of colon tumors, and 75 percent of lung tumors.

The group with lung tumors had eight times the number of ALK rearrangements compared to patients in the over-39 group.