Study identifies ‘three evolutionarily distinct types of kidney cancer’

The Francis Crick Institute |  April 2018  | ‘Killer’ kidney cancers identified by studying their evolution

Three new studies funded by Cancer Research UK have led scientists to better understand that kidney cancer follows a specific evolutionary path. The first two studies involved the analysis of more than 1,000 tumour samples from kidney cancer patients (n equal to 100)  to reconstruct the sequence of genetic events that led to the cancer in each patient. Their analysis gave rise to the three evolutionarily distinct types of kidney cancer and each has its own path:

  • The first type never acquires the ability to become aggressive
  • The second tumour type forms the most aggressive tumours, evolving through a rapid burst of genomic damage early on.  This enables the tumour all it needs to spread to other regions of the body.
  • The third tumour spreads over a longer period of time and are made of different populations of cancer cells, some of which are aggressive

Dr Samra Turajlic lead author of the study said: “The outcomes of patients diagnosed with kidney cancer vary a great deal – we show for the first time that these differences are rooted in the distinct way that their cancers evolve.

“Knowing the next step in cancer’s evolutionary trajectory could tailor the treatment choice for individual patients in the next decade. For instance, patients with the least aggressive tumours could be spared surgery and monitored instead, and those with gradually evolving tumours could have the primary tumour surgically removed even after it has spread.”


The Francis Crick Institute have created a video to accompany this press release

The third study found that events that trigger kidney cancer can take place in childhood or adolescence years before the primary tumour is diagnosed.

Dr Peter Campbell, corresponding author of this study said: “We can now say what the initiating genetic changes are in kidney cancer, and when they happen.” (The Francis Crick Institute).

The full news story can be read at The Francis Crick Institute website

All of the articles are published in Cell and can be read by following the links

 Turajlic, S. et al  |Deterministic Evolutionary Trajectories Influence Primary Tumor Growth: TRACERx Renal

 Turajlic, S. et al |Tracking Cancer Evolution Reveals Constrained Routes to Metastases: TRACERx Renal

 Turajlic, S. et al | Timing the Landmark Events in the Evolution of Clear Cell Renal Cell Cancer: TRACERx Renal


In the media

BBC News Why some cancers are born to be bad 

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