Cancer genes 'may differ around a tumour'

9 March 2012

Carrying out a cancer diagnosis on just a sample of one part of a tumour may not give medical professionals an entire picture of the severity of the disease.

A new study carried out by scientists at Cancer Research UK has suggested that cancer genes vary depending on their location in a tumour.

By studying the genetic variation between different regions of the same tumour using kidney cancer samples, the researchers established that around two-thirds of the gene faults were exclusive to one area and not shared throughout.

With the result, Cancer Research UK believes that it could explain why the success of many single biopsies is limited, as well as possibly leading to a medical breakthrough.

Professor Charles Swanton, the lead author of the research, commented: "We've known for some time that tumours are a 'patchwork' of faults, but this is the first time we've been able to use cutting-edge genome sequencing technology to map out the genetic landscape of a tumour in such exquisite detail."

A separate study carried out by Cancer Research UK scientists, in which the ABRAXANE cancer treatment was combined with gemcitabine, has led to a new way of treating cells relating to pancreatic cancer being established.

Posted by Edward Bartel

Gerlinger M. et al. 'Intratumor heterogeneity and branched evolution revealed by multiregion sequencing'. New England Journal of Medicine. Wednesday March 7th 2012.

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