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Trends Mol Med. 2002 Jun;8(6):288-93.

The promise of biomarkers in cancer screening and detection.

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  • 1Cancer Biomarkers Research Group, Division of Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD 20852, USA.


Despite the recent decline in the incidence of cancer, long-term mortality rates remain unchanged. One of the most important factors in the survival of cancer is detection at an early stage. Clinical assays that detect the early events of cancer offer an opportunity to intervene and prevent cancer progression. Biomarkers are important molecular signatures of the phenotype of a cell that aid in early cancer detection and risk assessment. Although new information and technologies are clearly important for new biomarker discovery, we face major hurdles in translating new findings into clinical application. Here, we discuss examples of recent advances and limitations in cancer biomarker identification and validation, and the implications for cancer prevention.

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