The systematic karyotyping of bone marrow cells was the first genomic approach used to personalize therapy for patients with leukemia. The paradigm established by cytogenetic studies in leukemia (from gene discovery to therapeutic intervention) now has the potential to be rapidly extended with the use of whole-genome sequencing approaches for cancer, which are now possible. We are now entering a period of exponential growth in cancer gene discovery that will provide many novel therapeutic targets for a large number of cancer types. Establishing the pathogenetic relevance of individual mutations is a major challenge that must be solved. However, after thousands of cancer genomes have been sequenced, the genetic rules of cancer will become known and new approaches for diagnosis, risk stratification and individualized treatment of cancer patients will surely follow.