How many mutations do tumors have?

It may be hard to believe, but the genome of a cancer tumor is full of genetic changes. Each of us has a set of inherited genetic traits that are identical in each one of our cells. However, during our lives, each of our body’s cells undergoes mutations, adding up to several hundreds, or more, mutations by the end of the cell’s lifecycle. 

However, when a cell undergoes the process of turning into a cancer cell, it begins to acquire mutations much faster than normal. Record-holders – the ultra-hypermutating” tumors – have more than 1,000 mutations for every million base pairs, which adds up to 3.2 million (!) unique changes to individual bases in the genome! 

We can count all these mutations thanks to whole-genome sequencing, which plays an important in selecting the most effective type of personalized treatment to treat a tumor with such a horrendous number of mutations.

Number of mutations in the genome per 1 million base pairs. To obtain the total number of changes in the genome, we multiply this value by 3200, because our genome has 3.2 billion base pairs.

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