Dramatic advances in our understanding of cancer causation have
come from epidemiologic and laboratory research, particularly
over the past two decades. These developments have included
a broadening interest in the critical events that take place during
the early stages of the dynamic multistep process leading to invasive
cancer. Increasingly, cancer epidemiologists are pursuing
research into the origins and natural history of premalignant
lesions, including intermediate or surrogate endpoints, a trend accelerated
by the development of molecular technologies that are
revolutionizing our understanding of the transformation of normal
to malignant cells. There seems little doubt that this emerging
knowledge will provide further insights not only into carcinogenic
processes, but also into more sensitive methods of early detection
and more effective means of prevention.
In this book, Drs. Franco and Rohan have succeeded in preparing
a comprehensive, timely, and critical review of the substantial
progress that has been made in our understanding of cancer precursors.
They have enlisted experts in the field who have contributed
authoritative chapters on the precursors to a wide variety
of cancers, with emphasis on etiology and natural history, including
the role of environmental and heritable factors that provoke
normal cells to undergo malignant transformation. Epidemiologic
data are linked whenever possible to molecular as well as classical
cellular pathology, providing a fuller understanding of the causal
events and mechanisms that initiate the carcinogenic process.
Cancer Precursors is a groundbreaking, multidisciplinary text containing a comprehensive overview of methodological issues associated with the study of pre-cancerous conditions, as well as reviews of the contributions of descriptive, analytical, and molecular epidemiological research to knowledge about cancer precursors at specific anatomical locations. The research focuses on the early natural history of cancers, by helping to define the etiology of precursor lesions, improving the means of detecting them either directly or via testing of surrogate biomarkers, and by elucidating the role of remote causes leading to the early onset of such lesions.