The multistep process of cancer progresses over many years. The prevention of mutations by DNA repair pathways led to an early appreciation of a role for repair in cancer avoidance. However, the broader role of the DNA damage response (DDR) emerged more slowly. In this Timeline article, we reflect on how our understanding of the steps leading to cancer developed, focusing on the role of the DDR. We also consider how our current knowledge can be exploited for cancer therapy.
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A.M.C. is funded by the Medical Research Council (grant G1100074). L.H.P. is supported by the Cancer Research UK Programme grant C302/A14532, and P.A.J. is supported by the EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) RISK – IR project under grant agreement no. 323267. The authors also thank F. Pearl for useful discussions.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Jeggo, P., Pearl, L. & Carr, A. DNA repair, genome stability and cancer: a historical perspective. Nat Rev Cancer 16, 35–42 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrc.2015.4
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