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  • Posted: 05/08/2012

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NCI Cancer Center News

Stanford study reveals genetic diversity in cells shed by tumors

The cells that slough off from a cancerous tumor into the bloodstream are a genetically diverse bunch, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have found. Some have genes turned on that give them the potential to lodge themselves in new places, helping a cancer spread between organs. Others have completely different patterns of gene expression and might be more benign, or less likely to survive in a new tissue. Some cells may even express genes that could predict their response to a specific therapy. Even within one patient, the tumor cells that make it into circulating blood vary drastically. The finding underscores how multiple types of treatment may be required to cure what appears outwardly as a single type of cancer, the researchers say.

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Among the research institutions NCI funds across the United States, it currently designates 66 as Cancer Centers. Largely based in research universities, these facilities are home to many of the NCI-supported scientists who conduct a wide range of intense, laboratory research into cancer’s origins and development. The Cancer Centers Program also focuses on trans-disciplinary research, including population science and clinical research. The centers’ research results are often at the forefront of studies in the cancer field.