, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 1-15
Date: 17 Aug 2012

Genetic and Epigenetic Biomarkers in Cancer

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Gene expression patterns change during the initiation, progression, and development of cancer, as a result of both genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. Genetic changes arise due to irreversible changes in the nucleotide sequence, whereas epigenetic changes occur due to changes in chromatin conformation, histone acetylation, and methylation of the CpG islands located primarily in the promoter region of a gene. Both genetic and epigenetic markers can potentially be utilized to identify different stages of tumor development. Several such markers exhibit high sensitivity and specificity for different tumor types and can be assayed in biofluids and other specimens collected by noninvasive technologies. In spite of the availability of large numbers of diagnostic markers, only a few have been clinically validated so far. The current status and the challenges in the field of genetic and epigenetic markers in cancer diagnosis, risk assessment, and disease stratification are discussed.