Health Desk- 9 Feb, 2020: More than a thousand scientists have built the most detailed picture of cancer ever in a landmark study.
They said cancer was like a 100,000-piece jigsaw, and that until today, 99% of the pieces were missing. Their studies, published in the journal Nature, provide an almost complete picture of all cancers.
They could allow treatment to be tailored to each patient's unique tumour, or develop ways of finding cancer earlier.
The Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes Consortium analysed the whole genetic code of 2,658 cancers.
A cancer is a corrupted version of our own healthy cells - mutations to our DNA change our cells until eventually they grow and divide uncontrollably.
Most of our understanding of this process comes from the sets of genetic instructions for building the body's proteins.
"That's a mere 1% of the whole genome," said Dr Lincoln Stein from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.
He said doctors would be "in the dark" when treating around a third of patients, as it was impossible to tell why their cells had become cancerous. It has taken teams in 37 countries more than a decade to figure out what the 99% were doing.