Heterogeneity in breast cancer

J Clin Invest. 2011 Oct;121(10):3786-8. doi: 10.1172/JCI60534. Epub 2011 Oct 3.


Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease. There is a high degree of diversity between and within tumors as well as among cancer-bearing individuals, and all of these factors together determine the risk of disease progression and therapeutic resistance. Advances in technologies such as whole-genome sequencing and functional viability screens now allow us to analyze tumors at unprecedented depths. However, translating this increasing knowledge into clinical practice remains a challenge in part due to tumor evolution driven by the diversity of cancer cell populations and their microenvironment. The articles in this Review series discuss recent advances in our understanding of breast tumor heterogeneity, therapies tailored based on this knowledge, and future ways of assessing and treating heterogeneous tumors.

Publication types

  • Introductory Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Translational Medical Research