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September 21, 1979

Chromosome analysis techniques expand; new links to cancer

JAMA. 1979;242(12):1239-1240. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03300120003001

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Two childhood cancers, both of which are embryomas, have recently been linked to very small congenital chromosomal abnormalities. In the view of many, such cancers may now be regarded as birth defects.

The cancers are Wilms' tumor and retinoblastoma. Both can be inherited (eg, as autosomal dominant traits), but often they occur sporadically.

"The effort to detect these extremely small chromosomal abnormalities is just in its nascence," says Park S. Gerald, MD, chief of the Division of Clinical Genetics at Children's Hospital in Boston and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

Speaking at the recent Short Course in Medical and Experimental Mammalian Genetics in Bar Harbor, Me, sponsored by The Jackson Laboratory and The National Foundation-March of Dimes, Gerald credited Jorge J. Yunis, MD, with spearheading this detection effort.

Yunis, professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, in 1975 developed a high-resolution