In the largest study of its kind, a team of scientists led by College alumna and Honorary Fellow, Professor Serena Nik-Zainal, analysed the complete genetic make-up of more than 12,000 NHS cancer patients.
Whole genome sequencing provided a vast amount of data, which meant researchers were able to detect patterns in the DNA of cancer called 'mutational signatures' that provide clues about whether a patient has cellular malfunctions or been exposed to environmental causes of cancer such as smoking or UV light.
The team from Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) and the University of Cambridge discovered 58 new mutational signatures. This suggests there are other causes of cancer that we don't fully understand.
The research is reported in the journal of Science.