Cancer progresses through a series of histopathological stages. Progression is thought to be driven by the accumulation of genetic alterations and consequently gene expression pattern changes. The identification of genes and pathways involved will not only enhance our understanding of the biology of this process, it will also provide new targets for early diagnosis and facilitate treatment design. Genomic approaches have proven to be effective in detecting chromosomal alterations and identifying genes disrupted in cancer. Gene expression profiling has led to the subclassification of tumors. In this article, we will describe the current technologies used in cancer gene discovery, the model systems used to validate the significance of the genes and pathways, and some of the genes and pathways implicated in the progression of preneoplastic and early stage cancer.