"This was suspected to be the case," said Berchuck, who is also a member of the TCGA ovarian cancer working group, and a spokesperson for the Foundation for Women's Cancer. But, "no one's ever mapped it out in extraordinary detail like this before, so that we can begin to understand the biology and root causes of what's going on," he pointed out.
"For patients, what's important is that we can now look at an individual cancer and characterize the molecular alterations that have caused that specific cancer to arise," Berchuck said. "And then those alterations become therapeutic targets for treating that particular cancer. So it really ushers in the potential for personalized medicine, in which you're not treating all ovarian cancers in the same way. Of course, it's a big leap between that knowledge and being able to do something about it. But this represents a major step in the right direction."
For more on ovarian cancer, visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
SOURCES: Paul T. Spellman, Ph.D., (during research) staff scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Berkeley, California, and (as of July 1) Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Ore.; Andrew Berchuck, M.D., gynecologic oncologist, and director, gynecologic cancer program, Duke Cancer Institute, Durham, N.C., and member, ovarian cancer working group, TCGA Research Network, and spokesperson, Foundation for Women's Cancer; June 30, 2011, Nature
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