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Respirology. 2012 Jan;17(1):50-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1843.2011.02095.x.

Pulmonary adenocarcinoma: a renewed entity in 2011.

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Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.


Lung cancer, of which non-small-cell lung cancer comprises the majority, is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and worldwide. Lung adenocarcinomas are a major subtype of non-small-cell lung cancers, are increasing in incidence globally in both males and females and in smokers and non-smokers, and are the cause for almost 50% of deaths attributable to lung cancer. Lung adenocarcinoma is a tumour with complex biology that we have recently started to understand with the advent of various histological, transcriptomic, genomic and proteomic technologies. However, the histological and molecular pathogenesis of this malignancy is still largely unknown. This review will describe advances in the molecular pathology of lung adenocarcinoma with emphasis on genomics and DNA alterations of this disease. Moreover, the review will discuss recognized lung adenocarcinoma preneoplastic lesions and current concepts of the early pathogenesis and progression of the disease. We will also portray the field cancerization phenomenon and lineage-specific oncogene expression pattern in lung cancer and how both remerging concepts can be exploited to increase our understanding of lung adenocarcinoma pathogenesis for subsequent development of biomarkers for early detection of adenocarcinomas and possibly personalized prevention.

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