Evolution of the cancer genome


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Michael R. Stratton1
1Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK

Abstract

All cancers carry somatically acquired changes in their genomes. Some, termed “driver” mutations, are causally implicated in cancer development. The remainder are “passengers”, and bear the imprints of mutational processes operative during cancer development. Following the advent of second generation sequencing technologies the provision of whole cancer genome sequences has become a reality. These sequences generate comprehensive catalogues of somatic mutations, including point mutations, rearrangements and copy number changes and provide insights into the evolutionary processes underlying the development of individual human cancers including the factors generating variation and the forces of selection. These insights will form the foundation of our understanding of cancer causation, prevention and treatment in the future.