Studies Suggest Our View of Cancer Is Outdated

It's not about a particular organ, it's about gene mutations

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 1, 2013 6:33 PM CDT

(Newser) – Two major studies of common cancers have zeroed in on the particular gene mutations associated with both, a breakthrough that could lead to better treatment for those with acute myeloid leukemia and endometrial cancer, reports the Boston Globe. But the studies also lend credence to a broader idea: that our traditional way of defining cancer by the organ in which it originates is outdated, reports the New York Times. Instead, it might be time to start thinking of cancer in terms of genetic mutations.

In the latest studies, for example, researchers were surprised to discover that the worst endometrial tumors of the uterine were remarkably similar to the worst forms of breast and ovarian cancer. That raises "the tantalizing possibility that the three deadly cancers might respond to the same drugs," writes the Times' Gina Kolata. This emerging approach is called "precision medicine," notes the Wall Street Journal. The theory has been around for a while, but the new research under the sprawling Cancer Genome Atlas project seems to validate it. "It is very rewarding—I can't overstate it," says one expert not affiliated with the work.

  (Shutterstock)
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