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Expert Stresses Significance of Genetic Differences in Kidney Cancer

Angelica Welch
Published: Thursday, May 04, 2017

W. Marston Linehan, MD

W. Marston Linehan, MD

There are 16 different known genes that cause kidney cancer and at least 13 different types of inherited kidney cancer, says W. Marston Linehan, MD, emphasizing the need to understand the genetic differences between these diseases.

, Linehan, chief, Urologic Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, discussed the landscape of kidney cancer, current clinical trials, and hope for the future of immunotherapy in this disease.

OncLive: Can you describe the current landscape of kidney cancer?

Linehan: We started working on kidney cancer 33 years ago. Our goal was to understand the genes that cause kidney cancer, with the idea of studying their pathways and then developing therapies to target those pathways in patients with advanced, sporadic, non-inherited kidney cancer. What we've learned is that kidney cancer is not a single disease—it is a number of different diseases with different histologies, different clinical courses, responding differently to therapy, and of course, caused by different genes. We know now that kidney cancer is caused by at least 16 different genes. A huge amount has been learned about kidney cancer by studying families, because they are really the window to understanding therapy in patients with sporadic, non-inherited kidney cancer. 
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