Setback Reported in Research into Cancer Treatment


March 8, 2012

USA Today

Scientists are reporting what could be very bad news for efforts to customize cancer treatment based on each person's genes.

They have discovered big differences from place to place in the same tumor as to which genes are active or mutated. They also found differences in the genetics of the main tumor and places where the cancer has spread.

This means that the single biopsies that doctors rely on to choose drugs are probably not giving a true view of the cancer's biology. It also means that treating cancer won't be as simple as many had hoped.

By analyzing tumors in unprecedented detail, "we're finding that the deeper you go, the more you find," said one study leader, Dr. Charles Swanton of the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute in England. "It's like going from a black-and-white television with four pixels to a color television with thousands of pixels." Read More