Aussie scientists map deadly cancer genes

Scientists have mapped out the first comprehensive picture of deadly cancer genes commonly afflicting children, which, if detected early, can help patients survive.

Sarcomas begin in the body's connective tissue including bone, muscle, fat and cartilage and make up about 20 per cent of the cancers diagnosed in people under 20.

Nearly 2500 Australians will be diagnosed with one this year alone.

Published this week in the leading journal, Science, Australian-led research reveals one in 14 individuals who develop a sarcoma carry a clinically important gene that explains why it arose.

"The findings uncovered by this research are so important because by understanding how individuals develop sarcomas, we move closer to earlier detection and better treatments," lead author Dr Mandy Ballinger of the Garvan Institute said.

Jonathan Granek, who was diagnosed with a sarcoma aged 26, lauded how the new scientific discovery "offers hope to sarcoma patients because it increases the chance of a diagnosis at an early and curable stage".

The research used data collected from the International Sarcoma Kindred Study which has access to more than 3500 families recruited across seven countries.

Prince of Wales Hospital Associate Professor Kathy Tucker says the results are a game changer in the field that will fill in many missing pieces to the puzzle, which will change clinical practice.