Cancer genomics: technology, discovery, and translation

J Clin Oncol. 2012 Feb 20;30(6):647-60. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2011.39.2316. Epub 2012 Jan 23.


In recent years, the increasing awareness that somatic mutations and other genetic aberrations drive human malignancies has led us within reach of personalized cancer medicine (PCM). The implementation of PCM is based on the following premises: genetic aberrations exist in human malignancies; a subset of these aberrations drive oncogenesis and tumor biology; these aberrations are actionable (defined as having the potential to affect management recommendations based on diagnostic, prognostic, and/or predictive implications); and there are highly specific anticancer agents available that effectively modulate these targets. This article highlights the technology underlying cancer genomics and examines the early results of genome sequencing and the challenges met in the discovery of new genetic aberrations. Finally, drawing from experiences gained in a feasibility study of somatic mutation genotyping and targeted exome sequencing led by Princess Margaret Hospital-University Health Network and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the processes, challenges, and issues involved in the translation of cancer genomics to the clinic are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Computational Biology
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Techniques* / ethics
  • Genetic Techniques* / standards
  • Genomics / ethics
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Genotyping Techniques
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Human Genome Project
  • Humans
  • Molecular Biology / methods
  • Molecular Biology / standards
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Ontario
  • Protein Biosynthesis