Should cancers be named according to which mutations they carry? Elizabeth Tracey reports


Myc, ras, BRCA…these are all shorthand for common cancer mutations, with a new study saying that’s how cancers should be identified rather than which organ or system they’re found in, since not knowing the mutations may delay proper treatment. Kimmel Cancer Center director William Nelson at Johns Hopkins disagrees.

Nelson: I’m not sure it's the delay that he thinks it is. The biggest objection I have to it is that the whole reason you figure out where a cancer is is because you're going to be looking for it by some kind of screening and early detection move, and it matters where it is if you're going to remove it and not need any of these medicines. That logic that we're not going to call something breast cancer anymore is crazy because what will we be screening for then we're not going to be screening for BRCAomas, we're going to be screening for breast cancers because then we can remove them keeping the breast intact and having minimal other treatments.  :31

Nelson predicts that characterizing cancers will involve both anatomy and genetics, as well as other factors. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.