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Cytometry. 1998 Jan 1;31(1):67-73.

Assessing genetic markers of tumour progression in the context of intratumour heterogeneity.

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Henrietta Banting Breast Centre, Women's College Hospital, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


This is a report from the Kananaskis working group on quantitative methods in tumour heterogeneity. Tumour progression is currently believed to result from genetic instability and consequent acquisition of new genetic properties in some of the tumour cells. Cross-sectional assessment of genetic markers for human tumours requires quantifiable measures of intratumour heterogeneity for each parameter or characteristic observed; the relevance of heterogeneity to tumour progression can best be ascertained by repeated assessment along a tumour progressional time line. This paper outlines experimental and analytic considerations that, with repeated use, should lead to a better understanding of tumour heterogeneity, and hence, to improvements in patient diagnosis and therapy. Four general principles were agreed upon at the Symposium: (1) the concept of heterogeneity requires a quantifiable definition so that it can be assessed repeatably; (2) the quantification of heterogeneity is necessary so that testable hypotheses may be formulated and checked to determine the degree of support from observed data; (3) it is necessary to consider (a) what is being measured, (b) what is currently measurable, and (c) what should be measured; and (4) the proposal of working models is a useful step that will assist our understanding of the origins and significance of heterogeneity in tumours. The properties of these models should then be studied so that hypotheses may be refined and validated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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