Håvard E. Greger Danielsen

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Heterogeneity is a word of Greek origin meaning “different kinds”, indicating a composition of different constituents rather than a uniform mass.

Heterogeneity in cancer is defined as variations in the cell's phenotype due to genetic or non-genetic factors. This can, again, be divided into inter-tumor and intra-tumor heterogeneity. Inter-tumor heterogeneity is seen when two individual tumors have different attributes despite identical starting points, as with multiple tumors in prostate. Intra-tumor heterogeneity occurs when subpopulations of cells within one tumor superficially act like one homogenous mass. The subpopulations can react differently to treatment, posing great challenges to treatment planning and implementation.

Usually a small piece of a tumor is sent for analysis, which often is not representative of the tumor, due to heterogeneity. Knowing the genetic composition of a tumor will help determine the mode of action against the disease. Heterogeneity is present on many levels: the morphology of the tissue, DNA content, transcription of genes, and epigenetic differences.

At the ICGI we are increasing the understanding of heterogeneity in cancer by following disease progression and analyzing samples from many areas of the tumors. We use DNA ploidy and Nucleotyping as measurements of heterogeneity. Through immunohistochemistry and FISH we further characterize the composition of tumors.

Heterogeneity is the main focus in the DoMore! project. For more information go to www.domore.no.

This text was last modified: 03.08.2020

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Chief Editor: Prof. Håvard E. Danielsen
Copyright Oslo University Hospital. Visiting address: The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Ullernchausséen 64, Oslo. Tel: 22 78 23 20