A Critical Examination of the "Bad Luck" Explanation of Cancer Risk

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2015 Sep;8(9):762-4. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-15-0229. Epub 2015 Jun 29.


Tomasetti and Vogelstein (1) argue that lifetime cancer risk for particular tissues is mostly determined by the total number of stem cell (SC) divisions within the tissue, whereby most cancers arise due to "bad luck"—mutations occurring during DNA replication. We argue that the poorly substantiated estimations of SC division parameters and assumptions that oversimplify somatic evolution prevent such a conclusion from being drawn.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Stem Cells / physiology*