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.

Natural selection: The evolution of cancer

Cancer cells vary; they compete; the fittest survive. Patrick Goymer reports on how evolutionary biology can be applied to cancer — and what good it might do.

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. Campbell, P. J. et al. Blood 108, 3548–3555 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Nowell, P. C. Science 194, 23–28 (1976).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Maley, C. C. et al. Nature Genet. 38, 468–473 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Jones, S. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 4283–4288 (2008).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Armitage, P. & Doll, R. Br. J. Cancer 8, 1–12 (1954).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Varshavsky, A. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 104, 14935–14940 (2007).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references


Additional information

Patrick Goymer is associate editor of Nature Reviews Genetics.

Related links

Related links

Related links in Nature Research

Cancerevo blog on Nature Network

Nature Insight: Cell Division and Cancer

Related external links

Cancer Genome Project

The Cancer Genome Anatomy Project

The Cancer Genome Atlas

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Goymer, P. Natural selection: The evolution of cancer. Nature 454, 1046–1048 (2008).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


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