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For the most part, studies into the genetics underlying different kinds of cancer serve to parse the disease further into specific subtypes. But a new study published in Nature by The Cancer Genome Atlas consortium shows that when it comes to colon and rectal tumors, the similarities may be more important than the differences. Analysis of the genomic profiles of 224 colorectal tumors and matched normal tissue samples found that whether the tumors originate in the colon or the rectum, they are almost indistinguishable genetically, reports Agence France-Presse. Cancer Minute's sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News also reports that the researchers sequenced the exomes of all 224 tumor-normal pairs and also did low-coverage, whole-genome sequencing on 97 of the sample pairs. "The sweep threw up 24 genes where telltale mutations point to a role in either initiating or accelerated colorectal cancer," AFP adds. "They include the genes ERBB2 and IGF2, which are involved in cell proliferation."

In a statement, US National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said the study will help researchers and clinicians to understand the origins of colorectal tumors, and that the "data and knowledge gained here have the potential to change the way we diagnose and treat certain cancers."

GWDN has more on the study here.

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