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Tumor tracking gets personal

Bringing genomics to cancer care

9:30pm, February 18, 2010

SAN DIEGO – A new way to identify cancer’s genetic scrambling may allow doctors to better monitor how individual patients respond to treatment and detect a recurrence of a tumor.

Wholesale juggling of chunks of DNA is common in cancer cells, but cataloging those changes hasn’t been easy. Now, a small study of colorectal and breast tumor cells shows that these genetic rearrangements can be reliably identified. Unlike with some other types of cancer, these genetic changes are unique to each individual’s tumor. While that individuality may stymie efforts to design therapies to target these rearrangements, their presence alone can be useful as a marker of cancer’s waxing and waning, scientists said during a news briefing February 18 at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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