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Using colorectal cancer as a model, we review some of the insights into cancer evolution afforded by cancer sequencing. These include nonlinear and neutral evolution; polyclonality of driver mutations and parallel evolution in adenomas, although these are rare in carcinomas; the ability of mutational processes to shape evolution against the force of selection; the presence of rare driver genes that function in the same signaling pathways as the longstanding canonical drivers; and the existence of selective windows that constrain the functional effects of cancer driver mutations within limits. Many of these nascent evolutionary paradigms are potentially important for treating colorectal cancers as well as understanding their development.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





841 - 846