Many cancers evolve from benign precancerous lesions and have a natural history of progression that provides a window of opportunity for intervention. The biological mechanisms underlying this evolutionary trajectory can only be truly understood through an extensive characterization of the molecular, cellular, and non-cellular properties of premalignant and malignant tumors, and must also recognize how the microenvironment (stromal cells, immune cells, and other types of cells) contributes to this evolution. We describe here the need to develop comprehensive molecular and cellular atlases for organ-specific premalignant lesions while capturing the spatial, structural, and functional changes over time that will provide a greater understanding of how premalignancy transitions to malignancy. The PreCancer Atlas (PCA) initiative, described in this Opinion, will address this need and aims to overcome the many challenges that currently plague the field. The hope is that PCAs will lead to the development of effective and timely interventions to prevent the development of invasive cancers.
Srivastava, S., Ghosh, S., Kagan, J., & Mazurchuk, R. (2018, August 1). The Making of a PreCancer Atlas: Promises, Challenges, and Opportunities. Trends in Cancer. Cell Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trecan.2018.06.007