Analyzing samples of both might clarify cancer culprits, affect treatment
Cancer research is increasingly turning to genetics to expose the inner workings of tumors and to guide treatment. But tumor-only analyses offer up many “false positive” mutations that appear to contribute to cancer, but which actually show up elsewhere in an individual’s healthy tissue, a new study finds. Sampling both tumor and healthy tissues might provide a way to sort out truly cancerous mutations, the scientists report.
A team of researchers in Baltimore tested tumor tissue and healthy tissue from 815 patients who had various cancers. Using only the tumor analysis, the tests spotted an average of 382 mutations per case that appeared associated with cancer. But nearly two-thirds of these variations, on average, also showed up in healthy tissues, suggesting that they weren’t driving the cancer, the authors report in the April 15 Science Translational Medicine.