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Nat Rev Cancer. 2003 Sep;3(9):695-701.

The significance of unstable chromosomes in colorectal cancer.

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  • 1Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21231, USA.


A very large fraction of cancers have an abnormal genetic content, called aneuploidy, which is characterized by changes in chromosome structure and number. One explanation for this aneuploidy is chromosomal instability, in which cancer cells gain or lose whole chromosomes or large fractions of chromosomes at a greatly increased rate compared with normal cells. Here, we explore experimental and theoretical evidence for the initiation of chromosomal instability in very early colorectal cancers, and reflect on the role that chromosomal instability could have in colorectal tumorigenesis.

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