Perinatal carcinogenesis as a cross-disciplinary concern is the subject of this special issue of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, which consists of a total of eight reviews or commentaries in the areas of epidemiology, risk assessment, and animal models. Some of the conclusions from these articles, and the Questions and Answers section that follows most of them, are summarized here.
There is adequate reason to suspect that perinatal exposures contribute to human cancer risk, both childhood cancers, and those appearing later in life. The latter type of risk may actually be quantitatively the more important, and involve a wide range of types of effects, but has received only limited attention.
Introduction and overview. Perinatal carcinogenesis: growing a node for epidemiology, risk management, and animal studies, Toxicology and applied pharmacology, NCBI PubMed PMID: 15313581, 2004 Sep.
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With regard to childhood cancers, fetal irradiation and diethylstilbestrol exposure are known etiological agents, and it is likely, but not yet certain, there are additional external causes of a portion of these. Some current focal points of interest here include nitroso compounds, DNA topoisomerase inhibitors, viruses, anti-AIDS drugs, and endocrine disruptors.
Regulatory agencies must rely heavily on animal data for estimation of human risk due to perinatal exposures to chemicals, and the quantity and quality of these data presently available for this purpose are greatly limiting. Correctly designed conventional animal studies with suspect chemicals are still needed. Furthermore, genetically engineered mouse models for childhood cancers, especially medulloblastoma, have become available, and could be used for screening of candidate causative agents for this cancer type, and for better understanding of gene-environment interactions.
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