Toronto Public Health confirms first three cases of Omicron variant in city.
LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Public health officials in northwest Arkansas have confirmed more than three cases of a previously unknown rare form of lung cancer that is being called the Little Rock Omicron variant.
The cancer, found most often in older people, is a type of non-small-cell lung cancer that’s usually fatal. However, the rare form of the cancer is extremely hard to detect early and is diagnosed only after the cancer is too advanced to treat.
The Arkansas Department of Health says it’s the first time the rare form of the cancer has been confirmed in Little Rock.
The Little Rock Omicron variant was first detected at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in the summer of 2015. That discovery led to a mass screening that included more than 9,000 participants and was carried out by University Health System personnel.
In December 2015, five people in the city of Little Rock who had been diagnosed with non-small-cell lung cancer were notified to the Arkansas Department of Health that the cancer had a genetic mutation that was linked to a rare form of lung cancer. They joined the 15 people who had been previously diagnosed since February. That number has since grown to 39 people.
The cancer is most common among people aged 55 to 85. It’s caused by a genetic mutation that changes how a protein called TFE3 interacts with another protein called p62, causing both proteins to stop working properly.
The discovery was made in collaboration with researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and the University of California at San Francisco.
Treatment for lung cancer often leads to remission, but the cancer may come back even after the first-and-last treatment.
The patients are undergoing chemotherapy and at least two of them are undergoing radiation.
The first three patients affected are from the Little Rock Eastside area, a neighborhood in Pulaski County near Little Rock that has a median household income of about $75,000 a year.
Public health officials say the other people that contracted the rare form of lung cancer were all from west Little Rock in Pulaski and Baxter counties.
The Arkansas Department of Health