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February 14, 1996

The Molecular Basis of Cancer

Author Affiliations

University of Maryland Cancer Center Baltimore

JAMA. 1996;275(6):492-493. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530300076049

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


The science of molecular biology has been responsible for a dramatic change in our understanding of cancer. This understanding has led to improvements in the ability to diagnose and treat certain malignancies.

Unfortunately, despite these advances in patient care, molecular biology remains an elusive and perplexing topic for many physicians. While a minority are able to stay abreast of advances in the field of molecular biology, this often requires a rather manic reading of the literature and a keen eye for new and significant information. Oncology was one of the first fields to benefit from advances in molecular biology and undoubtedly will benefit from additional advances in the future. For these reasons, it is important that each practitioner of oncology have at least a general understanding of the molecular mechanisms at work in the clinic.

An alternative to an exhaustive reading of the literature is a well-written textbook. The textbook