Most tumor-driving mutations are carried from original malignancy, study suggests
Min Yu/USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE
COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. — When breast cancer spreads, it moves in gangs of ready-to-rumble tumor cells, a small genetic study suggests. Most of the mutations that drive recurrent tumors when they pop up elsewhere in the body were present in the original tumor, geneticist Elaine Mardis reported May 9 at the Biology of Genomes meeting.
For many types of cancer, it is the spread, or metastasis, of tumor cells that kills people. Because cancer that comes back and spreads after initial treatment is often deadlier than the original tumors, researchers thought most of the mutations in recurrent tumors happened after they spread. But the new findings contradict this assumption and may indicate ways to stop metastasis.
Mardis, of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues collected recurrent breast tumors from 16 women who died after their cancer had