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Why is every tumour different?

  • Researcher: Professor Cedric Blanpain
  • Institution: Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium
  • Award Amount: £274,488 for 3 years from January 2015
  • Cancer Type: Skin Cancer
Why is every tumour different?
No two cancers are ever the same. In the same person different tumours can grow at different rates, be more or less likely to spread, and respond differently to treatments. Even within the same tumour, different groups of cancer cells behave differently. Scientists and doctors want to know more about how and why tumours come to have these different characteristics, to help them develop and use more targeted treatments. They use the term ‘tumour heterogeneity’ to describe differences between tumours, or between groups of tumour cells. Professor Blanpain and his team are studying the mechanisms that influence tumour characteristics in a type of skin cancer called skin squamous cell carcinoma. In the UK about 2 in 10 cases of skin cancer diagnosed are squamous cell carcinoma.* “We think tumour heterogeneity begins with genetic and non-genetic differences of cells which are present at the very beginning of tumour development,” explains Professor Blanpain. “In this project we will try to understand in mice how these differences relate to tumour growth, spread, and response to treatment.” “I hope the answers to these important questions will help us understand the basic mechanisms regulating tumour heterogeneity, and will have important implications for cancer therapy and personalised medicine.” * Latest statistics from Cancer Research UK
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