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Trends Ecol Evol. 2013 Oct;28(10):597-604. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2013.05.020. Epub 2013 Jun 28.

Tumor growth dynamics: insights into evolutionary processes.

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Department of Mathematics, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA. Electronic address:


Identifying the types of event that drive tumor evolution and progression is crucial for understanding cancer. We suggest that the analysis of tumor growth dynamics can provide a window into tumor biology and evolution by connecting them with the types of genetic change that have occurred. Although fundamentally important, the documentation of tumor growth kinetics is more sparse in the literature than is the molecular analysis of cells. Here, we provide a historical summary of tumor growth patterns and argue that they can be classified into five basic categories. We then illustrate how those categories can provide insights into events that drive tumor progression, by discussing a particular evolutionary model as an example and encouraging such analysis in a more general setting.

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