Cancer Research UK scientists have discovered that cervical cancer patients who have a mixture of different genetic faults in their tumour at the start of treatment may be more likely to relapse, according to a study published in the British Journal of Cancer today.
So over time a tumour can develop into a ‘patchwork’ of different cells – with each patch carrying a different pattern of gene faults.
Previous research comparing the genetic makeup of leukaemia and ovarian cancers before and after treatment has also shown that resistant cells may be present before treatment starts, suggesting it could be an important factor in many different types of cancer.
Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: "Resistance to treatment is a huge problem in cervical cancer and many women initially respond well to treatment, only to relapse later. Studying how the genetic makeup of the tumour changes in response to treatment should lead to a better understanding of resistance to treatment and how it might be overcome.
"This small study suggests that patients with a more varied patchwork of genetic faults in their tumour tend to have worse outcomes, highlighting the importance of developing treatments tailored to the genetic makeup of each patient’s tumour."
Source: Cancer Research UK