In the war on cancer, we are fighting and even winning smaller battles. That means reducing and sometimes preventing cancer that occurs in childhood or in the prime of someone's life. Eventually, we all will get it, unless something else gets us first. Cancer, after all, is a condition "deeply ingrained in the nature of evolution and multicellular life." In other words, cancer is fundamentally a disease of the genome.
Over the past 10 years we have learned to read out that genome, explains Eric Green, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute in today's lesson. Studying the sequence of a tumor’s DNA allows us to "gain insights from that tumor with respect to the DNA changes that have led to those cells becoming a cancer," Green says.