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Nat Rev Cancer. 2003 Mar;3(3):226-31. doi: 10.1038/nrc1016.

Cancer selection.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Ascot, Berks SL5 7PY, UK.


Cancers are often thought to be selectively neutral. This is because most of the individuals that they kill are post-reproductive. Some cancers, however, kill the young and so select for anticancer adaptations that reduce the chance of death. These adaptations could reduce the somatic mutation rate or the selective value of a mutant clone of cells, or increase the number of stages required for neoplasia. New theory predicts that cancer selection--selection to prevent or postpone deaths due to cancer--should be especially important as animals evolve new morphologies or larger, longer-lived bodies, and might account for some of the differences in the causes of cancer between mice and men.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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