Treat cancers by type not location, new study suggests
CANCER should not be treated based on where it is first found in the body, but depending on the type of tumour, scientists have said.
Until now medics have treated cancers according to where they originate, such as the lungs, bowel, or breasts.
But a new study has found that all 33 cancer types can be reclassified into 28 different molecular types, or “clusters”, based on their cellular and genetic make-up and independent of their origin in the body.
“It’s time to rewrite the textbooks on cancer,” said Professor Christopher Benz, from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in California. “It’s time to break down the silos in clinical oncology that make it difficult for patients to take advantage of this paradigm shift in cancer classification.”
Researchers mapping cancer genomes, as part of the Pan-Cancer Atlas project, found one tumour type was in 25 parts of the body and would have previously all been treated differently.
This discovery means that in some cases medications for one type of cancer should be used to treat another and drugs used for treating other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, could also be used to fight cancer.
Dr Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funded the US research, said: “This analysis provides cancer researchers with unprecedented understanding of how, where, and why tumours arise in humans, enabling better-informed clinical trials and future treatments.”