Tumors develop from cells as a consequence of mutations in genes. Mutations usually occur randomly and are typically corrected by the cell’s DNA repair systems. However, exposure to carcinogens, such as tobacco smoke or UV radiation increases the number of mutations. A not correctly repaired mutation can result in altered protein function, leading to dysfunction of cellular processes and possibly the beginning of cancer. Spontaneously obtained mutations are called somatic mutations. The genetic alterations initially drive the loss of growth control, the proliferation of cell clones with reduced mortality rate, and finally the distribution of tumor cells to distant organs (metastases). The somatic mutations acquired by tumors in the course of the disease are individual and differ not only between different cancer entities but also from patient to patient – every tumor is unique. Thus, cancer is a multifactorial and heterogeneous genetic disease.
NGS-guided Oncogenetics – a new era of cancer therapy
The individual set of tumor-specific mutations helps the tumor to survive, reduce sensitivity to certain treatments, and develop resistance against therapeutic agents. To choose a promising treatment strategy, a deep and accurate look into the molecular underpinnings of individual tumors is required. The use of next-generation sequencing (NGS) has initiated a new era in cancer therapy and is a driving force to change the future in personalized precision medicine. Through NGS analysis of genetic mutations, we can tailor the oncological treatments to each patient’s features and each cancer genomic alterations to maximize the curative effect, minimize damage to healthy tissues, and optimize resources (Morganti et al., 2020; Walter et al., 2020; Wu et al., 2020).