Sequencing the genes of a cancer cell turns up lots of genetic mutations — but some of them are harmless. The goal is to figure out which mutations are the troublemakers. Kevin Curtis/Science Source hide caption

itoggle caption Kevin Curtis/Science Source

Anne Koller closes her eyes as an oncology nurse attaches a line for chemotherapy to a port in her chest. Koller typically spends three to six hours getting each treatment. Sarah Jane Tribble/WCPN hide caption

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Blaze Bioscience is commercially developing the "paint," which glows when exposed to near-infrared light. Courtesy of Blaze Bioscience hide caption

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Melinda Townsend-Breslin holds a photo showing her and her mother standing in the parking lot of a favorite thrift store in 2013. William DeShazer for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption William DeShazer for NPR

MaryAnn Anselmo has started to sing again after recovering from brain surgery and having successful treatment with a drug that targeted a mutation in her tumor cells. Dave Gershgorn/WNYC hide caption

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The Josephson family in 2001, after Dixie (third from left) was told she had cancer. Courtesy of the Josephsons hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the Josephsons

Central Illinois corn farmer Jerry McCulley refills his sprayer with the weedkiller glyphosate on a farm near Auburn, Ill. A new assessment of the chemical finds that the (uncertain) risks mainly affect the people who work with it or who come in direct contact with areas where it's applied. Seth Perlman/AP hide caption

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Actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie Pitt says she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Matt Sayles/Matt Sayles/Invision/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Matt Sayles/Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Both James Eversull (left) and Pat Patchell were treated with experimental chemotherapy and radiation for leukemia as children in the 1960s. Together, they're now some of the country's oldest leukemia survivors.. Courtesy of James Eversull; Courtesy of Pat Patchell hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of James Eversull; Courtesy of Pat Patchell

Prion protein can be infectious, spreading from cell to cell in the brain. Here four nerve cells in a mouse illustrate how infectious prion protein moves within cells along neurites — wire-like connections the nerve cells use for communicating with adjacent cells. Science Source hide caption

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Chris Newman, seen at her home in Los Molinos, Calif., calls the change she helped get made to lung cancer treatment guidelines a "small, but very important victory." Courtesy of Chris Newman hide caption

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Physicians Nowiba Mugambi and Erica Palys discuss a patient's X-ray at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya. The hospital plans to open a new cancer treatment center in April. Evelyn Hockstein/Courtesy of AMPATH hide caption

itoggle caption Evelyn Hockstein/Courtesy of AMPATH

It's a good start when experimental compounds stop the proliferation of cancer cells in the lab. But, as many researchers have learned the hard way, that's just an early step toward creating a worthwhile treatment. Science Source hide caption

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Bernice Singleton (left), one of the original mothers in the research project, is seen with her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Gretta. Paige Cowett/WNYC hide caption

itoggle caption Paige Cowett/WNYC