Some patients with a given cancer have higher survival rates than other patients with the same type of cancer: the discovery of signatures for higher (green line in graph) or lower (red line) survival rates would help doctors to manage the expectations of their patients. Survival predictions for cutaneous melanoma were originally based on clinical parameters: tumor location, Breslow thickness (how deep it spreads into the skin), stage (size and distance spread), and grade (how its cells look under the microscope). Advances in cancer genetics led to the discovery of biomarkers (such as the V600E mutation in the BRAF gene) that enabled more accurate predictions. Advances in transcriptomics also led to biomarkers, such as the level of transcription of a gene called MITF. Guo et al. complemented these approaches by analyzing epigenomics data to identify a biomarker based on DNA methylation marks (orange box): the predictive power of the new biomarkers is higher than that of previous biomarkers.
IMAGE CREDIT:Rw251 [CC0 1.0].