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06th Feb 2020

Groundbreaking study might have discovered a more efficient way to treat cancer

Rebecca O'Keeffe


Every 3 minutes in Ireland someone gets a cancer diagnosis. Every hour someone dies from cancer.

These upsetting and real facts are reported by the Irish Cancer Society.

Which is why we’re so delighted to hear about this new study, that might have discovered a better way to treat cancer.

A ten year-long study that has been examining the genomes of cancers has revealed how tumours form and might just allow for better focused treatment.

The Pan-Cancer Project gathered 1,300 medical researchers to tackle the task of sequencing the genomes of 38 different forms of cancer in nearly 2,800 patients.

“With the knowledge we have gained about the origins and evolution of tumours, we can develop new tools and therapies to detect cancer earlier, develop more targeted therapies and treat patients more successfully,” said Lincoln Stein, a member of the project.

Among the key findings of the work is the massive variety in cancer genomes, said Peter Campbell of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, another steering committee member.


“The most striking finding is just how different one person’s cancer genome is from another person’s,” he said.

The study found that the early development of some cancers can occur long before diagnosis, in childhood.

“This shows that the window of opportunity for early intervention is much wider than we expected,” Dr Campbell said.

It also found that cancers in different parts of the body are sometimes much more alike than had been thought.

“We may have a type of breast cancer and prostate cancer where the driver mutations are similar,” said Joachim Weischenfeldt, a co-author of the groundbreaking work.

“This means that the patient with prostate cancer may benefit from the same treatment as the one you would give the breast cancer patient,” he said in a statement.