Special Articles

Nucleic Acid-Based Methods for the Detection of Cancer

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Science  07 Nov 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5340, pp. 1054-1058
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5340.1054

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Abstract

Continued elucidation of the genetic changes that drive cancer progression is yielding new and potentially powerful nucleic acid–based markers of neoplastic disease. Pilot studies indicate that these markers can be used to detect cancer cells in a variety of clinical settings with unprecedented precision. Nucleic acid–based markers may prove to be valuable tools for early detection of cancer in asymptomatic individuals, for confirmation or exclusion of a cancer diagnosis that is based on suspicious but nondiagnostic clinical material, for assessment of tumor burden in cancer patients, and for assessment of response to preventive approaches applied to healthy individuals who are at high risk of developing cancer. Examples of these markers, their potential applications, and the current practical limitations on their clinical use are reviewed here.

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