The complexity of microRNAs in human cancer

J Radiat Res. 2016 Aug;57 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):i106-i111. doi: 10.1093/jrr/rrw009. Epub 2016 Mar 16.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNA molecules that have key regulatory roles in cancer, acting as both oncogenes and tumor suppressors. Due to the potential roles of miRNAs in improving cancer prognostic, predictive, diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, they have become an area of intense research focus in recent years. MiRNAs harbor attractive features allowing for translation to the clinical world, such as relatively simple extraction methods, resistance to molecular degradation, and ability to be quantified. Numerous prognostic, predictive and diagnostic miRNA signatures have been developed. To date however, miRNA analysis has not been adopted for routine clinical use. The objectives of this article are to provide an overview of miRNA research and review a selection of miRNA studies in breast cancer, cervical cancer, sarcoma, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma to highlight advances and challenges in miRNA cancer research.

Keywords: breast cancer; cervical cancer; microRNA; nasopharyngeal carcinoma; sarcoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / genetics*


  • MicroRNAs