KRAS belongs to a class of genes known as oncogenes. When mutated, oncogenes have the potential to cause normal cells to become cancerous. Many patients with lung cancer, including many of those who test positive for the KRAS biomarker, don’t have any signs or symptoms in the early stages, which is why many lung cancer patients are not diagnosed until the lung cancer is advanced.
KRAS gene mutations are somatic, which means they are acquired during a person’s lifetime and are present only in tumor cells. Somatic mutations are not inherited.
In addition, KRAS gene mutations are more frequent in white populations than in Asian populations:
- 25-50% of whites with lung cancer have KRAS gene mutations
- 5-15% percent of Asians with lung cancer have KRAS gene mutations.
Also, these mutations seem to be more common in people who’ve smoked or who have been exposed to asbestos.