Recent research has suggested that the likelihood of cancer patients surviving could be predicted by classifying tumours according to their levels of chromosomal instability.
Published in Cancer Research, the study analysed the chromosomal instability (CIN) status of more than 3,000 cancer patients and linked these findings to survival data.
The team discovered patients with moderate CIN were less likely to survive than those with very low levels of CIN.
However, those with the most extreme levels of instability had a better chance of survival.
Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, commented: "These results suggest there is a tipping point for chromosomal instability and that cancer cells that exceed this threshold are unlikely to persist beyond initial treatment."
The doctor added: "Identifying patients who fall either side of the tipping point could help doctors distinguish high and low risk groups and target them with appropriate treatments."