«We will control cancer when we understand the individual characteristics of each patient's tumour»

Josep Tabernero


    We tend to speak of colon or lung cancer, when in fact there are a wide variety of colon and lung tumours. We will only win the battle against cancer when we individualise the tumour each patient has and give it personalised treatment. In this regard, we have studied a subgroup of patients with colorectal cancer who present a mutation in the BRAF gene to find the best treatment for them. In general, tumours have and depend upon several genetic alterations, but those that are highly selective and where this applies to only one, such as the BRAF gene, are usually more aggressive.

    In our study, we observed that a combination of two or three protein inhibitor drugs in the BRAF pathway and implicated in cell reproduction has a major impact and improves the survival rate of these patients, who represent 8 % of advanced colorectal cancer cases. While this may be a small percentage, it is a significant number, since colorectal cancer is a very frequent tumour. In fact, it is the most common cancer in men and women in Spain when we analyse them together, and 45,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. Fortunately, colorectal cancer is one of the tumours with which most advances have been produced in recent years, due to increasingly more personalised, early diagnoses.


    • Josep Tabernero
      Director of the Vall d’Hebron Institut d’Oncologia (VHIO), Barcelona