Significant advances in our knowledge of cancer genomes are rapidly changing the way we think about tumor biology and the heterogeneity of cancer. Recent successes in genomically-guided treatment approaches accompanied by more sophisticated sequencing techniques have paved the way for deeper investigation into the landscape of genomic rearrangements in cancer. While considerable research on solid tumors has focused on point mutations that directly alter the coding sequence of key genes, far less is known about the role of somatic rearrangements. With many recurring alterations observed across tumor types, there is an obvious need for functional characterization of these genomic biomarkers in order to understand their relevance to tumor biology, therapy, and prognosis. As personalized therapy approaches are turning toward genomic alterations for answers, these biomarkers will become increasingly relevant to the practice of precision medicine. This review discusses the emerging role of genomic rearrangements in breast cancer, with a particular focus on fusion genes. In addition, it raises several key questions on the therapeutic value of such rearrangements and provides a framework to evaluate their significance as predictive and prognostic biomarkers.
Keywords: biomarkers; breast cancer; fusion genes; genomic instability; personalized therapy; rearrangements.