Precancer: A conceptual working definition. Results of a Consensus Conference
The Conference participants developed a general definition for precancers that would provide a consistent and clinically useful way of distinguishing precancers from all other types of lesions. It was recognized that many precancerous lesions may not meet this strict definition, but the group felt it was necessary to define criteria that will help standardize clinical and biological studies. Furthermore, a set of defining criteria for putative precancer lesions will permit pathologists to build a diagnostically useful taxonomy of precancers based on specified clinical and biological properties. Precancers thus characterized can be classified into clinically relevant sub-groups based on shared properties (i.e. biomarkers, oncogenes, common metabolic pathways, responses to therapy, etc.). Publications that introduce newly described precancer entities should describe how each of the five defining criteria apply. This manuscript reviews the proposed definition of precancers and suggests how pathologists, oncologists and cancer researchers may determine when these criteria are satisfied.