The study reported by Lee and colleagues in this issue of the journal (beginning on page 185) incorporated global genetic variation within a new assessment of the outcome of a previously reported phase-III trial of low-dose 13-cis-retinoic acid (13-cRA) for preventing second primary tumors (SPT) or the recurrence of head-and-neck cancer. This analysis identified genotypes of common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) and cumulative effect and potential gene-gene interactions that were highly associated with increased placebo-arm risk (prognostic) and/or with reduced treatment-arm risk and longer event-free survival (predictive). For example, the wild-type rs3118570 SNP of the retinoid X receptor alpha gene (carried by 71% of the 13-cRA trial population) marked a 3.33-fold increased SPT/recurrence risk in the placebo arm and a 38% reduced risk in the treatment arm. Adding two other informative genotypes strengthened the treatment-arm risk reduction to 76%, although the genotype trio reflected only 13% of the trial population. This report extends the concept of personalized therapy to cancer prevention.
A strong case for personalized, targeted cancer prevention