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June 19, 1996


JAMA. 1996;275(23):1833-1834. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530470061036

The identification and incorporation of molecular technology into the practice of oncology is allowing us to begin to overcome the existing limitations of cancer prevention and treatment and to provide more specific targets for treatment. What are these limitations? In prevention, the major obstacle has been the inability to recognize the person at risk for development of cancer. The identification and cloning of genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and ATM are examples of discoveries made in the past year that eventually will ease this burden. [See also Medical Genetics.—Ed.] Resistance to systemic treatment and the inability to identify small numbers of residual cells irrespective of treatment modality have limited the successful application of chemotherapy. The development of molecular tools for evaluation of response to treatment, allocation of patients to specific forms of therapy, and the addition of functioning genes in somatic cells (gene therapy), although controversial, have finally reached