Cancer comes back all jacked up on stem cells

IMAGE: Antonio Jimeno, MD, PhD, and University of Colorado Cancer Center colleagues analyze three tumor samples collected over time from a single patient to show how cancer evolves to resist treatment… view more 

Credit: University of Colorado Cancer Center

After a biopsy or surgery, doctors often get a molecular snapshot of a patient’s tumor. This snapshot is important – knowing the genetics that cause a cancer can help match a patient with a genetically-targeted treatment. But recent work increasingly shows that tumors are not static – the populations of cells that make up a tumor evolve over time in response to treatment, often in ways that lead to treatment immunity. Instead of being defined by a snapshot, tumors are more like a movie. This means that a tumor that recurs after treatment may be much different than the tumor originally seen in a biopsy.

Which is why, as reported in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, it was very special to collect three tumor samples over the course of three surgeries from a patient with salivary gland cancer.

“People talk about molecular evolution of cancer and we were able to show it in this patient. With these three samples, we


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