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OKC Cancer Center to be Site for Landmark Cancer Genome Atlas

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - Campus News - Contact Theresa Green, (405) 833-9824

The Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center has been selected as a Tissue Source Site for The Cancer Genome Atlas, a landmark research initiative supported by the National Institutes of Health. 

The goal of the Cancer Genome Atlas is to understand why the cells in 20 specific types of cancer grow out of control and lead to tumor formation and metastasis. Begun in 2006 as a pilot project, the Cancer Genome Atlas has grown into an international research initiative involving hundreds of medical centers and laboratories worldwide involved in collecting, sequencing, analyzing and ultimately utilizing the genomic data generated by the project.      

"The Cancer Genome Atlas project will reveal a great deal about why tumors develop, and the Stephenson Cancer Center is proud to be able to contribute to this effort," said Dr. Robert Mannel, director of the Cancer Center. "As a Tissue Source Site in this initiative, Stephenson Cancer Center patients will have the opportunity to participate in a major research project that will hopefully lead to more effective cancer drugs and better strategies to prevent this dreadful disease."

Every cell contains a complete set of instructions encoded in its DNA – collectively known as the genome. Those instructions tell the cell how to develop. When the instructions have mistakes, cells may not function normally. In some instances these mistakes can lead cells to multiply out of control and cause cancer. 

By looking at the genomic information in thousands of samples from many different patients, Cancer Genome Atlas researchers will gain a better understanding of what makes one cancer different from another. Even two patients with the same type of cancer may experience very different outcomes or respond very differently to treatments.  By connecting specific genomic changes with specific outcomes, researchers will be able to develop more effective, individualized ways of helping each cancer patient.

"This is a landmark study in the fight against cancer that includes the leading national and international cancer research institutions. Our patients who donate tumor tissue will be contributing to our understanding of the most basic differences between normal cells and cancer," said Dr. Rosemary Zuna, lead pathologist for the project at the Stephenson Cancer Center. "This project promises to revolutionize our understanding of cancer biology and lead to more effective, less toxic treatments."

As a designated Tissue Source Site for the Cancer Genome Atlas, the Stephenson Cancer Center will be contributing samples of normal and cancer tissue from patients, along with treatment and outcome information. 

Eligible patients at the Stephenson Cancer Center will have the opportunity to participate in the study by donating tissue, typically collected during routine surgical procedures. All patient information is de-identified to maintain confidentiality.    

For more information about research at the Stephenson Cancer Center please visit

This project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, under Contract No. HHSN261200800001E. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views of policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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