The Epigenomic Revolution in Breast Cancer: From Single-Gene to Genome-Wide Next-Generation Approaches.

From the first identification of aberrant DNA methylation in primary human tumors more than three decades ago, exponential progress in cancer epigenetics research has been made. For many years, cancer epigenetics studies relied on identification of DNA methylation and histone modifications at specific genes. These studies laid the foundation for the field and revealed the epigenetic alterations as hallmark of cancer, as well as the crucial role of epigenetic mechanisms in tumorigenesis. The introduction of next-generation sequencing and array-based technologies for analyzing epigenetic states has accelerated our understanding about cancer and nowadays have become potent tools in our fight against the disease. Findings emerging from epigenome-wide analyses have led to new discoveries with remarkable clinical applications. This review summarizes gene-specific epigenetic alterations commonly occurring in breast cancer and discusses the recent advances in breast cancer epigenomics, focusing on their contribution to diagnosis, prognosis, patient stratification, and treatment of the disease.

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