Causes of Cancer

It’s in the Genes

Doctors and researchers agree: a tumor’s location is not the most important factor in choosing the best treatment. As Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, USA recently said, a lung cancer patient could have more in common with a bladder cancer patient than with another lung cancer patient: It all depends on the tumors’ genetics.

Wei Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., a pioneer researcher at Wake Forest University Health Sciences, USA. When his team analyzed the genetics of hundreds of gastric tumors, they discovered a significant percentage contained mutations in the well-known BRCA2 gene. For those patients, existing treatments might be effective, even though they had been developed for breast cancer!

It’s time to move beyond talking about cancer merely based on its tissue origin. In this era of precision medicine, the more researchers like Dr. Zhang learn about cancer genetics, the more doctors will be able to choose the best possible treatment for every one of their patients, regardless of cancer type.