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      Cancer etiology. Variation in cancer risk among tissues can be explained by the number of stem cell divisions.

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          Some tissue types give rise to human cancers millions of times more often than other tissue types. Although this has been recognized for more than a century, it has never been explained. Here, we show that the lifetime risk of cancers of many different types is strongly correlated (0.81) with the total number of divisions of the normal self-renewing cells maintaining that tissue's homeostasis. These results suggest that only a third of the variation in cancer risk among tissues is attributable to environmental factors or inherited predispositions. The majority is due to "bad luck," that is, random mutations arising during DNA replication in normal, noncancerous stem cells. This is important not only for understanding the disease but also for designing strategies to limit the mortality it causes.

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          Most cited references 94

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          Mutation and cancer: statistical study of retinoblastoma.

           R A Knudson (1971)
          Based upon observations on 48 cases of retinoblastoma and published reports, the hypothesis is developed that retinoblastoma is a cancer caused by two mutational events. In the dominantly inherited form, one mutation is inherited via the germinal cells and the second occurs in somatic cells. In the nonhereditary form, both mutations occur in somatic cells. The second mutation produces an average of three retinoblastomas per individual inheriting the first mutation. Using Poisson statistics, one can calculate that this number (three) can explain the occasional gene carrier who gets no tumor, those who develop only unilateral tumors, and those who develop bilateral tumors, as well as explaining instances of multiple tumors in one eye. This value for the mean number of tumors occurring in genetic carriers may be used to estimate the mutation rate for each mutation. The germinal and somatic rates for the first, and the somatic rate for the second, mutation, are approximately equal. The germinal mutation may arise in some instances from a delayed mutation.
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            CBTRUS statistical report: primary brain and central nervous system tumors diagnosed in the United States in 2005-2009.

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              The prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection in the United States, 1999 through 2002.

              Defining the primary characteristics of persons infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) enables physicians to more easily identify persons who are most likely to benefit from testing for the disease. To describe the HCV-infected population in the United States. Nationally representative household survey. U.S. civilian, noninstitutionalized population. 15,079 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2002. All participants provided medical histories, and those who were 20 to 59 years of age provided histories of drug use and sexual practices. Participants were tested for antibodies to HCV (anti-HCV) and HCV RNA, and their serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels were measured. The prevalence of anti-HCV in the United States was 1.6% (95% CI, 1.3% to 1.9%), equating to an estimated 4.1 million (CI, 3.4 million to 4.9 million) anti-HCV-positive persons nationwide; 1.3% or 3.2 million (CI, 2.7 million to 3.9 million) persons had chronic HCV infection. Peak prevalence of anti-HCV (4.3%) was observed among persons 40 to 49 years of age. A total of 48.4% of anti-HCV-positive persons between 20 and 59 years of age reported a history of injection drug use, the strongest risk factor for HCV infection. Of all persons reporting such a history, 83.3% had not used injection drugs for at least 1 year before the survey. Other significant risk factors included 20 or more lifetime sex partners and blood transfusion before 1992. Abnormal serum ALT levels were found in 58.7% of HCV RNA-positive persons. Three characteristics (abnormal serum ALT level, any history of injection drug use, and history of blood transfusion before 1992) identified 85.1% of HCV RNA-positive participants between 20 and 59 years of age. Incarcerated and homeless persons were not included in the survey. Many Americans are infected with HCV. Most were born between 1945 and 1964 and can be identified with current screening criteria. History of injection drug use is the strongest risk factor for infection.

                Author and article information

                Science (New York, N.Y.)
                American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
                Jan 02 2015
                : 347
                : 6217
                [1 ] Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Department of Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Department of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 550 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. ctomasetti@jhu.edu vogelbe@jhmi.edu.
                [2 ] Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, 1650 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. ctomasetti@jhu.edu vogelbe@jhmi.edu.
                347/6217/78 NIHMS686386


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