A strong rationale exists for developing cancer control strategies designed to suppress or reverse the development of precancerous lesions in order to reduce the occurrence and recurrence of this disease. Whereas numerous agents have been identified that inhibit tumor development, little is known about how they work. Recently the hypothesis has been raised that misregulation of apoptosis results in a failure of tissue size regulation that contributes to the development of cancer. If validated, this concept has important implications for the prevention of carcinogenesis and could lead to the development of new cancer control approaches that have as their basis the restoration of competence to regulate tissue size. Thus, it is essential to consider the role of cell loss in the tumorigenic process. In this regard investigation of the role of specific types of cell death in tumorigenesis, particularly the role of apoptotic cell death in maintenance of tissue homeostasis, has been neglected. The fact that apoptosis is a highly conserved, specific, and selective means of controlling tissue mass and shape also suggests that it can be exploited for the prevention or control of cancer.

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