Scientists have been studying cancer for decades. While there’s a lot we’ve learned, there’s also a lot that we still don’t know about cancer. Thanks to DNA technology, scientists are continuing to learn clues about the cancer process and mutations–with the hope of refining cancer treatment.
A study published in Science is the first of its kind. The study analyzes the DNA changes of healthy and diseased human bladder tissue to better understand the genetic changes in healthy and diseased bladder tissue. The results revealed “cancer-driving” mutations are common in healthy bladder tissue.
Surprisingly, the research team found high variability in the number and types of cancer mutations, as well as in the mutation frequency between individuals. This suggests a wide range of factors influence the cancer mutations in the bladder.
Tobacco use has long been a risk factor in bladder cancer. Though the bladder does not come into direct contact with tobacco, the chemicals are filtered out of the body by the kidneys. Therefore, the bladder comes in contact with tobacco in the urine. The study revealed a new mutational signature associated with smoking, confirming the smoking theory.
Thomas Mitchell, a senior author of the study, said: “Like many cancers, early diagnosis of bladder cancer gives the patient a much greater chance of survival. The presence of mutations in key cancer genes in bladder tumors that are usually absent in normal tissue opens up the possibility of looking for these changes in fragments of DNA that are present in urine. These ‘liquid biopsies’ could be a non-invasive way to screen for bladder cancer earlier, which could help reduce the number of people who die from this disease.”
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