Oncogenes and cancer: clinical applications

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Oncogenes are aberrant forms of proto-oncogenes, which are normal cellular genes that participate in cell growth and development; proto-oncogenes contribute to tumor formation when mutations or chromosomal translocation cause them to escape normal controls. Anti-oncogenes, also involved in neoplasm development, normally participate in inhibition of cell growth and proliferation; they become tumorigenic when mutations alter their function. Oncogene or anti-oncogene abnormalities have been characterized for a variety of tumors, with resulting clinical applications. In some forms of leukemia, for example, determining the presence or absence of the bcr-abl gene rearrangement has both diagnostic and prognostic value. The best-studied anti-oncogene is that found in retinoblastoma. Molecular techniques can differentiate the hereditary from the nonhereditary form of this disease and, with hereditary retinoblastoma, predict disease likelihood in family members.



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