New research partly led by UC San Francisco-affiliated scientists suggests that one in 10 cancer patients would be more accurately diagnosed if their tumors were defined by cellular and molecular criteria rather than by the tissues in which they originated, and that this information, in turn, could lead to more appropriate treatments.
In the largest study of its kind to date, scientists analyzed molecular and genetic characteristics of more than 3,500 tumor samples of 12 different cancer types using multiple genomic technology platforms.
Cancers traditionally have been categorized by their "tissue of origin"such as breast, bladder, or kidney cancer. But tissues are composed of different types of cells, and the new work indicates that in many cases the type of cell affected by cancer may be a more useful guide to treatment than the tissue in which a tumor originates.
The study, published August 7, 2014 in the online edition of Cell, was conducted as part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) initiative spearheaded by the National Cancer Institute and National Human Genome Research Institute, both part of the National Institutes of Health.
In the new work, TCGA Research Network scientists analyzed DNA, RNA, and protein from 12 tumor types using six different genomic technologies to see how different tumor types compare to one another. The team arrived at a classification based on 12 cancer subtypes. Five of these matched up well with tissue-of-origin classifications, but several newly identified subtypes were seen to affect a variety of tissues.
"This genomic study not only challenges our existing system of classifying cancers based on tissue type, but also provides a massive new data resource for further exploration, as well as a comprehensive list of the molecular features distinguishing each of the newly described cancer classes," said co-senior author Christopher Benz, MD, professor at the Buck Institute for
|Contact: Peter Farley|
University of California - San Francisco