In Austria lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer among men, and the third most common among women. “It is striking that in the last decade the mortality rate among female lung cancer sufferers has risen by almost 30%, while among men it has decreased by 20%,” explains Rita Seeböck of IMC Krems.
This trend could be explained by differences in genetic predisposition, hormonal influences and responsiveness to modern chemotherapy strategies (tyrosine kinase inhibitors). Every tumour exhibits different changes in its DNA, which can determine the success of a therapy.
“Predicting the influence of these changes on the effectiveness of certain therapeutic agents enables effective treatment with reduced negative impact on the patient’s health,” according to Seeböck, who is developing new diagnostic methods with her colleagues in the Department of Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at IMC Krems, as part of its FemTech project, which is funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency. Gender-specific differences are a central aspect of the research.
When smoking behaviour is taken into account, women are at higher risk of developing lung cancer than men, suggesting that gender-related differences are significant. The aim of the project is to advance the development of tailored, personalised therapies by making distinctions between individual patients.
Pathologielabor Dr. Obrist Dr. Brunhuber OG, a pathology laboratory in Zams, Tyrol, is a research partner in the project.