Molecular Epidemiology of Lung Cancer

Smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, the most common fatal cancer worldwide. However, most people who smoke do not develop lung cancer. Dr. Chen's goal is to figure out if certain people develop lung cancer because of a lower ability to repair DNA damage from smoking in their lungs. Dr. Chen and her team also explored how this could be related to other risk factors for lung cancer, such as smoking and a low intake of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.


1) Sakoda LC, Loomis MM, Doherty JA, Neuhouser ML, Barnett MJ, Thornquist MD, Weiss NS, Goodman GE, Chen C. Chromosome 15q24-25.1 variants, diet, and lung cancer susceptibility in cigarette smokers. Cancer Causes Control, 22(3):449-61, 2011. PMCID: PMC3042523.

2) Sakoda LC, Loomis ML, Doherty JA, Julianto L, Barnett, MJ, Neuhouser ML, Thornquist   MD, Weiss NS, Goodman GE, Chen C. Germ line variation in nucleotide excision repair genes and lung cancer risk in smokers.  Int J Mol Epidemio Genet, 3(1):1-17, 2012. PMCID: PMC3316453.

3) Doherty JA, Sakoda LC, Loomis MM, Barnett, MJ, Julianto L, Thornquist MD, Neuhouser ML, Weiss NS, Goodman GE, Chen C. DNA repair genotype and lung cancer risk in the Beta-Carotene and Retinal Efficacy Trial.  Int J Mol Epidemio Genet. 2013; 4(1):11-34. PMID: 23565320, PMCID: PMC3612452.

International Lung Cancer Consortium (ILCCO)

ILCCO was established in 2004 to share data from case-control and cohort studies from around the world to evaluate genetic and environmental factors that may influence lung cancer risk and survival.

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI)

The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) is a long term national health study involving postmenopausal participants in 40 study centers in the U.S. Dr. Chen is a member of its Clinical Coordinating Center housed at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and collaborates with WHI investigators who shared similar scientific interest.

Recent Publications with Investigators in ILCCO and WHI (Women’s Health Initiative)

1) Hung RJ, et al. International Lung Cancer Consortium: Pooled Analysis of Sequence Variants in DNA Repair and Cell Cycle Pathways. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 17:3081–3089, 2008. PMCID: PMC2756735.

2) McKay JD, et al. Lung cancer susceptibility locus at 5p15.33. Nat Genet, 40:1404-1406, 2009. PMCID: PMC2748187.

3) Landi MT, et al. A genome-wide association study of lung cancer identifies a region of chromosome 5p15 associated with risk for adenocarcinoma. Am J Hum Genet, 85:679-691, 2009. PMCID: PMC2775843.

4) Chen D, et al. A sex specific association between a 15q25 variant and upper-aero-digestive tract cancers. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 20(4):658-664, 2011. PMCID: PMC3070066.

5) Timofeeva MN et al. Hum Mol Genet. 2012; 21(22):4980-95. Influence of common genetic variation on lung cancer risk: meta-analysis of 14,900 cases and 29,485 controls.

6) Brenner DR et al. Hum Genet. 2013; 132(5):579-89. Hierarchical modeling identifies novel lung cancer susceptibility variants in inflammation pathways among 10,140 cases and 11,012 controls.

7) Chlebowski RT et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2010; 102(18):1413-21. Lung cancer among postmenopausal women treated with estrogen alone in the Women's Health Initiative Randomized Trial.

8) Wang Y et al. Nature Genet. 2014; 46(7):736-41. Rare variants of large effect in BRCA2 and CHEK2 affect risk of lung cancer. PMID: 24861552.

9) Wang A et al. Ann Oncol. 2015; 26(1):221-30. Active and passive smoking in relation to lung cancer incidence in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study prospective cohort.

10) Schwartz AG et al. J Thoracic Oncol. 2015 Jul;10(7):1004-13. Hormone use, reproductive history and risk of lung cancer: The Women’s Health Initiative studies. PMID:25852020,PMCID:PMC4627490