In the 3 decades since the signing of the National Cancer Act, there has been tremendous progress in the elucidation of the molecular underpinnings of cancer. Molecular genetic studies have been particularly insightful, revealing genetic rearrangements, such as chromosomal translocations, which may be the seminal event leading to deregulated cell growth for many childhood and adult cancers. These findings have led to new diagnostic and prognostic tools but have been slow to be translated into new therapeutic modalities. This article reviews a variety of methods now under development to exploit genetic changes in cancer to develop specific anticancer agents using gene therapy, viral therapy, and immunotherapy approaches. As many of these strategies inevitably enter the clinic, it will be imperative for health care professionals to be familiar with these novel approaches as they help patients navigate the likely broad array of treatment options.
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