Genomic analysis of thousands of tumors supports new cancer classification

IMAGE: UNC Lineberger’s Katherine Hoadley, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Genetics view more 

Credit: UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

CHAPEL HILL — University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers are reporting the concluding findings from a major analysis of nearly 10,000 different tumor samples that focused on identifying similarities between cancers based on changes in their genes, and the way their genes are expressed. The study by researchers from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Network, the largest of its kind to-date, supports an additional classification for human tumors.

Researchers determined more than a decade ago that cancer is not a single disease, but many, and different cancer subtypes can even occur within a single anatomic location, such as the breast, liver or colon. The new study, published in the journal Cell, shows that some cancers are very similar to others that originated from the same starting cell type – although these may have originated in a different organ.

“Tumor location has been the primary method for determining treatment for a given cancer patient,” said UNC Lineberger’s Katherine Hoadley, PhD, assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of


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