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Cancer categories recast in largest-ever genomic study
Date:8/7/2014

Research on Aging, adjunct professor of medicine at UCSF, and a member of UCSF's Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Particularly striking results were seen in bladder and breast cancers. At least three different subtypes of bladder cancer were identified, one virtually indistinguishable from lung adenocarcinomas, and another most similar to squamous-cell cancers of the head and neck and of the lungs. (In the new study, these squamous-cell cancers appeared to form their own subtype, whether they originated in the lungs or in the head and neck.) The findings may help explain why patients with bladder cancer "often respond very differently when treated with the same systemic therapy for their seemingly identical cancer type," said Benz.

The study also confirmed known differences between subtypes of breast cancer known as "basal-like" and "luminal" cancers. But because the researchers compared these cancers not just with one another but with many other types of cancer, they were able to reveal that these differences are quite profound, and that basal-like breast cancers constitute their own distinct class. "What's amazing is that basal breast cancer is as different from luminal breast cancer as it is from, say, kidney cancer," said co-lead author Denise Wolf, PhD, a research scientist based in UCSF's Department of Laboratory Medicine.

Commonly referred to as "triple-negative," basal-like cancers are particularly aggressive and are more prevalent among African-American women and younger women. "Even though these basal-like cancers arise in the breast, on the molecular level they have more in common with ovarian cancers and cancers of squamous-cell origin than with other subtypes of breast cancer," said co-lead author Christina Yau, PhD, a staff scientist at the Buck Institute and assistant professor of surgery at UCSF.

TCGA was launched in 2006 with the goal of compiling genomic atlases of more than 20 types of cancer. A
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Contact: Peter Farley
peter.farley@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert

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