Genetic information to improve lung cancer risk model

Researchers at the University of Liverpool have further improved a risk model that calculates a patient’s chance of developing lung cancer, with the inclusion of genetic markers that predispose people to the disease.

Scientists developed the Liverpool Lung Project (LLP) Risk Prediction Model, which calculates an individual’s chance of getting lung cancer within the next five years.  Research, funded by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, has found that the model can be further enhanced by including genetic markers of the disease.

The model currently uses information on smoking duration; previous diagnosis of pneumonia; previous diagnosis of other cancer; occupational exposure to asbestos and relative age at onset of lung cancer diagnosis. The risk tool is useful for selecting high risk individuals for prevention and control programmes.  Scientists are now focused on improving the model by including genetic markers modulating the lung cancer risk.

The team found that there is a 12% improvement in the prediction model when information on a protein disturbing gene, called SEZ6L SNP (rs663048), is included.  The addition of SEZ6L SNP is particularly useful in cases that are categorised in the ‘grey zone’ – individuals that are difficult to classify as ‘high’ or ‘low’ risk.

Professor John Field, Director of Research at the University’s Cancer Research Centre, said: “The inclusion of useful and well-validated lung cancer susceptibility genes in risk prediction tools provides a valuable scientific approach in the development of risk prediction models.  It will provide a powerful method for the selection of future patients in screening programmes.”

Dr Rosemary Gillespie, Chief Executive of The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, added:  “This is an exciting and important new development in the battle to defeat lung cancer. We are really starting to see real progress against this dreadful disease. This is especially exciting as it is our 20th Anniversary year. This progress is good news for all our loyal supporters who have funded this important work.”

The research was undertaken in collaboration with Professor Stephen Duffy from the Cancer Research UK Centre for EMS, Queen Mary University of London, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine and Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The study is published in the American Association of Cancer Research Journal, Cancer Prevention Research.

Notes to editors:

1. The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is the only charity in the UK wholly dedicated to defeating lung cancer – the biggest cancer killer in the world. Our approach benefits current and future lung cancer sufferers alike.  For more information about how to support the charity, contact 0151 254 7200 or visit

2. The University of Liverpool is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive institutions in the UK. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organisations valued at more than £98 million annually.

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