There are at least 200 forms of cancer, and many more subtypes. Each of these is caused by errors in DNA that cause cells to grow uncontrolled. Identifying the changes in each cancer’s complete set of DNA – its genome – and understanding how such changes interact to drive the disease will lay the foundation for improving cancer prevention, early detection and treatment.
The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), a collaboration between the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), has generated comprehensive, multi-dimensional maps of the key genomic changes in 33 types of cancer. The TCGA dataset, 2.5 petabytes of data describing tumor tissue and matched normal tissues from more than 11,000 patients, is publically available and has been used widely by the research community. The data have contributed to more than a thousand studies of cancer by independent researchers and to the TCGA research network publications.