Mutagens and carcinogens
Tennant, Raymond W. Cellular and Genetic Toxicology Branch, Department of Health and Human Resources, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
Last reviewed:January 2019
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- Mutagenesis and carcinogenesis
- Identifying mutagens and carcinogens
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Agents that raise the frequency of mutation above the spontaneous or background rate, or that incite development of a carcinoma or any other sort of malignancy. A mutagen is a substance or agent that induces heritable change in cells or organisms. A carcinogen is a substance that induces unregulated growth processes in cells or tissues of multicellular animals, leading to the disease called cancer (Fig. 1). Although mutagen and carcinogen are not synonymous terms, the ability of a substance to induce mutations and its ability to induce cancer are strongly correlated. In general, mutagenesis refers to processes that result in genetic change, and carcinogenesis (the processes of tumor development) may result from mutagenic events. See also: Cancer; Genetics; Mutation; Oncology
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