Limitations of the driver/passenger model in cancer prevention

Mary K. Kuhner, Rumen Kostadinov, Brian J. Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Mutations detected in cancers are often divided into "drivers" and "passengers."We suggest that this classification is potentially misleading for purposes of early detection and prevention. Specifically, some mutations are frequent in tumors and thus appear to be drivers, but are poor predictors of cancer; other mutations are individually rare and thus appear to be passengers, but may collectively explain a large proportion of risk. The assumptions bundled into the terms "driver" and "passenger" can lead to misunderstandings of neoplastic progression, with unintended consequences including overdiagnosis, overtreatment, and failure to identify the true sources of risk. We argue that samples from healthy, benign, or neoplastic tissues are critical for evaluating the risk of future cancer posed bymutations in a given gene. Cancer Prev Res; 9(5); 335-8.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-338
Number of pages4
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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