Cancer Genomics Overview

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Cancer is a group of diseases caused by changes in a person's genome that allow a tumor to form. These changes can be inherited from one's parents, caused by environmental factors, or occur during natural processes such as cell division. The field of cancer genomics studies these changes. Once the cancer-causing changes are identified, scientists may be able to develop drugs to target these changes, resulting in a better understanding of cancer as well as improved treatments. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as around the world, are working diligently to identify the changes.

Opportunities in Research - Building on Discoveries in Cancer Genomics

Importance of Cancer Genomics in Precision Cancer Medicine

Genomic information about cancer is leading to better diagnoses and treatment strategies that are tailored to patients’ tumors. Precision medicine is the application of genomic insights to a therapeutic approach adapted specifically for each patient. As a result of research into the genomic changes associated with cancer, drugs have been developed to fight the disease in several ways:

  • Targeting enzymes that trigger the abnormal growth and survival of cancer cells
  • Blocking aberrant gene expression characteristic of cancer cells
  • Halting signaling pathways sent incorrectly into overdrive.

There are several examples of precision medicine already in clinical use:

More Information

  • Posted: April 13, 2015