Debate Surges Over the Origins of Genomic Defects in Cancer

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Science  26 Jul 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5581, pp. 544-546
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5581.544

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Cancer cells are chock-full of mutations and chromosomal abnormalities, but there's no agreement among researchers on how incipient cancer cells accumulate so many changes. Increasingly, the debate is focusing on the role of genomic instability: some kind of inherent defect that makes the cancer cell genome more susceptible than that of normal cells to developing the various abnormalities. Some researchers maintain that genomic instability is needed early on to set cells on the path to cancer. Others maintain that genomic instability might contribute to cancer's ability to spread in the body, but that it's not necessary for a cancer to occur.