Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

New principle for the analysis of chemical carcinogenesis


THE development of cancer following exposure to chemical carcinogens or to various forms of irradiation is almost invariably slow and prolonged. Although the process can be initiated by a brief exposure to a carcinogenic stimulus, there is no evidence that target cells so altered are cancer cells. Rather, there is abundant indirect evidence from many systems that what is induced is an altered cell or cell population from which malignant neoplasia can gradually develop or evolve1,2. Neoplastic development therefore resembles a chain reaction, triggered by exposure to a carcinogen, in which the links are new populations with altered organisational, structural and biochemical properties. These slowly proliferative new lesions are characteristically focal in distribution, implying that only a small proportion of the original target cell population in any organ or tissue participates. It is not known what the critical property (or properties) is that makes initiated cells so important in carcinogens and the failure to understand and manipulate this early step has been a major impediment to its analysis.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Foulds, L., Neoplastic Development, 1, ch. 3 (Academic, London, 1969).

  2. Farber, E., Cancer Res., 33, 2537–2550 (1973).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Farber, E., Parker, S., and Gruenstein, M., Cancer Res. (in the press).

  4. Gravela, E., Feo, F., Canuto, R. A., Garcea, R., and Gabriel, L., Cancer Res., 35, 3041–3047 (1975).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Cameron, R., Sweeney, G. D., Jones, K., Lee, G., and Farber, E., Cancer Res. (in the press).

  6. Becker, F. F., and Klein, K. M., Cancer Res., 31, 169–173 (1971).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Kitagawa, T., Gann, 62, 217–224 (1971).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Druckrey, H., Stemhoff, D., Preussman, R., and Ivankovic, S., Nature wissenschaften, 50, 735 (1963).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  9. Craddock, V. M., Chem.-Biol. Interact., 10, 313–321 (1975).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Farber, E., Methods in Cancer Res., 7, 345–375 (1973).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Sasaki, T., and Yoshida, I., Virchows Arch. path. Anat. Physiol., 295, 175–300 (1935).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Scherer, E., and Emmelot, P., Eur. J. Cancer, 11, 689–696 (1975).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Haddow, A., Acta Un. Int. Cancr., 3, 342–352 (1938).

    Google Scholar 

  14. Laws, J. D., Br. J. Cancer, 13, 669–674 (1959).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Vasiliev, J. M., Guelstein, V. I., J. natn. Cancer Inst., 31, 1123–1143 (1963).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Diamond, L., Prog. exp. Tumour Res., 11, 364–383 (1969).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Kitagawa, T., Michalopoulis, G., and Pitot, H. C., Cancer Res., 35, 3682–3692 (1975).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Peraino, C., Fry, R. J. M., Staffeldt, E., and Kisieleski, W. E., Cancer Res., 33, 2701–2705 (1973).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Peraino, C., Fry, R. J. M., Staffeldt, E., and Christopher, J. P., Cancer Res., 35, 2884–2890 (1975).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

SOLT, D., FARBER, E. New principle for the analysis of chemical carcinogenesis. Nature 263, 701–703 (1976).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing