WEDNESDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Genes that predict length of survival and help guide treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer have been identified by U.S. researchers.

The investigators took samples of lung tumors and nearby healthy lung tissue from 30 patients and examined the samples for the presence of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) associated with 48 known genes for molecules called nuclear hormone receptors.

They then compared the active genes with patient outcomes and found that the expression of genes for certain nuclear hormone receptors helped predict patient survival.

According to the results, patients with two specific nuclear hormone receptors in their tumor tissue lived the longest. The two "biomarkers" were the short heterodimer partner and the progesterone receptor.

"Patient responses to cancer treatment vary widely and often depend on subtle biological differences among tumors," study co-lead author Dr. David Mangelsdorf, chairman of pharmacology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said in a facility news release.

"These findings are important because the ability to determine which genes are being expressed in each person's tumor, as well as a patient's likely survival time, can guide physicians to the most effective and appropriate personalized treatments," he added.

The study was published in the Dec. 14 edition of the journal PLoS Medicine.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about non-small cell lung cancer.