Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that start off in one or both lungs; usually in the cells that line the air passages. The abnormal cells do not develop into healthy lung tissue, they divide rapidly and form tumors. As tumors become larger and more numerous, they undermine the lung’s ability to provide the bloodstream with oxygen. Tumors that remain in one place and do not appear to spread are known as “benign tumors”.

Malignant tumors, the more dangerous ones, spread to other parts of the body either through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. Metastasis refers to cancer spreading beyond its site of origin to other parts of the body. When cancer spreads it is much harder to treat successfully.

Primary lung cancer originates in the lungs, while secondary lung cancer starts somewhere else in the body, metastasizes, and reaches the lungs. They are considered different types of cancers and are not treated in the same way. According to the National Cancer Institute, by the end of 2015 there will have been 221,200 new lung cancer diagnoses and 158,040 lung-cancer related deaths in the USA.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 7.6 million deaths globally each year are caused by cancer; cancer represents 13% of all global deaths. As seen below, lung cancer is by far the number one cancer killer.




Lung cancer - 1,370,000 deaths

Stomach cancer - 736,000 deaths

Liver cancer - 695,000 deaths

Colorectal cancer - 608,000 deaths

Breast cancer - 458,000 deaths

Cervical cancer - 275,000 deaths


In Colombia, for 2011, the lung cancer mortality rate was 8.61 per 100,000 population, showing a tendency to increase in the period 2000-2004. The highest mortality rates are found in the Zona Cafetera of the country, which includes the northern part of the Valle del Cauca.

From the year 2014 the Hospital San Ignacio the Javerian Center of Oncology and the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, formed the interdisciplinary working group: "Functional Unit of Lung Cancer". This group is made up of oncologists, pulmonologists, radiotherapists, thoracic surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, geneticists, nurses and palliatists. Its main objective is to respond in an early and efficient way to the needs of patients with lung cancer, offering the best comprehensive treatment and support, provide education, teaching and generate translational research based on the problems identified in our population.

From this interdisciplinary group emerged the need to establish links with professionals dedicated to research in the area of ​​basic sciences in order to establish a line of research directed towards the search for new biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis of the disease. Consequently, since 2014 our transdisciplinary Research Group has been working on research projects related to epigenetics and its relation to lung cancer. Specifically analyzing the mechanisms of transcriptional regulation and the enzymatic complexes that are involved with the activation or repression of genes and / or transcription factors related to lung cancer.




andrea otálora

cPhD - Doctorate Student

Universidad Nacional de Colombia


angélica herreño

MsC Biological Sciences - Graduated


laura rey

Bacteriologist - Graduated



viviana chaparro

Bacteriologist - Graduated



andrea ramírez

Bacteriologist - Graduated

Research assistant. 2018


christian montoya



diana VARGAS

Biologist - Graduated

camila bernal

Undergraduate student Bacteriology. 2018. Thesis.




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