According to a recent clinical trial performed by the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes project, cancer may now be identified even earlier.
In the trial, cancer genomes were analyzed to determine the order that the cells showed mutations.
Based on samples from more than 2,500 tumors and 38 types of cancer, the clinical trial shows that approximately half of the mutations occurred in only nine genes.
This indicates that a small number of mutations, referred to as driver mutations, are responsible for healthy cells developing cancer.
The discovery may lead to the development of new diagnostic testing involving imaging on patients who tested positive for cancerous cells.
“What’s extraordinary is how some of the genetic changes appear to have occurred many years before diagnosis, long before any other signs that cancer may develop, and perhaps even in apparently normal tissue,” said Clemency Jolly, a co-author of the research based at the Francis Crick Institute in London.
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