Premalignant cells in disguise?

Science  20 Dec 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5295, pp. 1983
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5295.1983a

Like other cancers, breast cancer is thought to develop through a series of morphologically distinguishable stages beginning with a benign overgrowth of cells and eventually progressing to invasive cancer. Deng et al. (p. 2057) postulated that breast cancers might also arise from cells that appear morphologically normal. They examined normal breast tissue adjacent to invasive tumors and found that in a subset of cases, the normal tissue contained genetic aberrations (loss of heterozygosity) previously detected only in obviously premalignant or malignant tissues. Whether the presence of these genetic changes in normal tissue is predictive of tumor recurrence remains to be investigated.

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