Generally, we name different types of cancer based on where they originated. But perhaps it would make more sense to name cancers based on how they act. Breast cancer, for example, actually comes in 10 different forms that depend on the patient’s genetic makeup, and each of them functions a little bit differently.
The largest ever study done on breast tissue involved 2000 breast cancer tumors and the analysis of thousands of genetic mutations within those tumors. Using this data, researchers defined 10 genetic groups into which breast cancer falls.
A tumor’s genetic “family” dictates how it responds to treatment, how fast it grows, whether the patient’s immune system is able to fight back against it, and other important factors. This information is changing the way we think about breast cancer and personalized care.
Professor Carlos Caldas of the department of oncology at Cambridge University says this discovery suggests that changes will need to be made in the future of cancer diagnosis and care.
“If it’s ten diseases, it means that they’ll require different diagnostic procedures, they will be associated with different clinical outcomes, and they will require different treatments.”
Check out the video below to learn more about how breast cancer is split into groups and what modifications will need to be made to the cancer care industry.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?