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Nat Rev Cancer. 2003 Sep;3(9):701-8. doi: 10.1038/nrc1170.

Genomic instability--the engine of tumorigenesis?

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Molecular and Population Genetics Laboratory, London Research Institute, Cancer Research UK, 44 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PX, UK.


Human cancers harbour numerous mutations and it has been proposed that these result from some form of inherent genomic instability. Some cancers have proven genomic instability or features that are indicative of this. Inherited cancer syndromes exist that are caused by deficient DNA repair or chromosomal integrity. By contrast, theoretical analysis and experimental data from sporadic colorectal tumours provide little general evidence of genomic instability in early lesions. These apparently conflicting data raise the question of whether or not genomic instability is necessary for driving tumour growth, and whether or not it is the usual initiating event in tumorigenesis.

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