Precancers precede invasive cancers. They are localized changes in tissue - lesions - identifiable by their morphologic structure. During carcinogenesis, when normal cells are transformed into cancerous cells, it is possible to identify precancers. Treating or removing precancerous cells at this early stage could prevent the prolonged, painful treatment and deaths of cancer sufferers. According to the authors of the article,
"Premalignant lesions are arguably the most important disease entities of modern man. In theory, the successful treatment of precancers would result in the eradication of most human cancers."
Despite their importance, until now there has been no attempt to produce a list of precancers, or to classify them according to their biological properties. Jules Berman of the National Cancer Institute at the NIH, and Donald Henson of George Washington University, Washington D.C., have produced a first draft of such a classification, which can be downloaded from http://65.
Precancer concepts and their associated terms were then grouped into six classes, defined by the authors, according to their biological properties. Berman and Henson provide, in the journal article, an in-depth description of precancer, along with the typical characteristics of each class of precancer.
The classification is designed to be fully searchable and linked to other databases. Written in XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language), it was converted into a HTML file so that it can be viewed in a standard Internet browser.
The authors recognize that this first draft is by no means definitive, so have posted the classification publicly and invited review by the medical community
On publication, this article will be available without charge at: http://www.
Please link to this URL and reference the journal in any article that you publish. Full journal reference:
Classifying the Precancers: A Metadata Approach
Jules J Berman and Donald E Henson
BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2003, 3:8 (20 June 2003)