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The Cancer Genome Atlas

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Pilot Project To Map Three Cancers
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Map of TCGA Components
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National Cancer Institute National Human Genome Research Institute

I TCGA: How Will It Work?

This graphic shows how The Cancer Genome Atlas pilot project will function. The center part of the graphic shows the components of the TCGA Network. The communities that are involved in the project are represented by the images in the orange and green boxes.

Roll over each box below for details.

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  1. Eligible cancer patients will be asked to donate a small portion of tumor tissue that has been removed as part of their cancer treatment. The tissue will be collected for a research study and will not affect the patient’s medical care in any way.
  2. Scientists plan to use several methods to analyze the genetic material obtained from the patient’s tissue. The genetic information will eventually be made publicly available so that scientists can use it to conduct research. Identifying information, such as the patient’s name, will not be put into the public database.
  3. Because cancer is not a single disease, but a collection of diseases that arise from different combinations of genetic changes, scientists must analyze the genetic material from different tumors and many patients to uncover the tell-tale genetic signatures of different cancer types.
  4. Human Cancer Biospecimen Core Resource: Tissue samples will be carefully catalogued, processed, checked for quality, and stored, complete with important medical information about the patient. Before the genetic material is sent for analysis, samples will be coded to remove any descriptors that might connect a sample with the patient’s private information.
    Genome Sequencing Centers: Building on the technologies that were used to complete the Human Genome Project, high-throughput genome sequencing centers will identify the changes in DNA sequence associated with specific types of cancer.
    Cancer Genome Characterization Centers:Several genome characterization technologies will be used to analyze the genetic changes involved in cancer onset and progression. The genetic changes that scientists believe are the most significant will be further studied by the genome sequencing centers.
    Data Management, Bioinformatics, and Computational Analysis: The information that is generated by The Cancer Genome Atlas network will be centrally managed and entered into public databases as it becomes available, allowing scientists to access the information during the course of the project.
  5. Scientists will analyze the complete set of genetic and clinical data produced by The Cancer Genome Atlas network to develop a comprehensive Web-based resource. This resource will describe the genetic “fingerprints” of specific cancer types and will be known as The Cancer Genome Atlas.
  6. Researchers will evaluate the information contained in The Cancer Genome Atlas to determine how it can be used to speed up advances in cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
  7. The goal of The Cancer Genome Atlas is to give physicians new ways to better care for their patients and significantly reduce the suffering and death due to cancer.

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