Tumour heterogeneity

Differences found in cancer cells in terms of their shape and structure (morphology), their gene expression, their metabolism, and their capacity to move, proliferate, and metastasize. Types:

  • Interpatient: variation between patients with cancers at the same site of origin
  • Intrapatient: variation within tumours in the same person
  • Intratumour: variation within a single tumour

The diversity or heterogenous nature of tumours is the key reason why identifying effective cancer treatments is so challenging and it is the impetus behind a precision medicine approach.