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New Cancer Classification System Might Boost Patient Outcomes
Date:8/7/2014

THURSDAY, Aug. 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Changes to the way cancers are classified could lead to more accurate diagnoses and perhaps more effective treatments in about one in 10 cancer patients, new research suggests.

Typically, cancers are categorized according to the tissue in which they originated, such as breast, bladder or kidney cancer. But tissues are composed of different types of cells.

In this study, researchers who analyzed more than 3,500 tumor samples of 12 different cancer types concluded that defining tumors by their cellular and molecular features, rather than by the tissues in which they originated, would improve diagnoses in about 10 percent of cancer cases.

"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," study co-senior author Dr. Christopher Benz, professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a university news release.

The study, published online Aug. 7 in the journal Cell, is part of The Cancer Genome Atlas initiative, which is led by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute.

The researchers report particularly significant findings in bladder and breast cancers. They identified at least three different subtypes of bladder cancer, including one that was nearly identical to a form of non-small cell lung cancer called lung adenocarcinoma, and another most similar to squamous-cell cancers of the head and neck and of the lungs.

The findings may explain why bladder cancer patients "often respond very differently when treated with the same systemic therapy for their seemingly identical cancer type," Benz said.

The researchers confirmed known differe
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