A new approach to the classification of carcinogenicity

John E. Doe, Alan R. Boobis, Samuel M. Cohen, Vicki L. Dellarco, Penelope A. Fenner-Crisp, Angelo Moretto, Timothy P. Pastoor, Rita S. Schoeny, Jennifer G. Seed, Douglas C. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Concern over substances that may cause cancer has led to various classification schemes to recognize carcinogenic threats and provide a basis to manage those threats. The least useful schemes have a binary choice that declares a substance carcinogenic or not. This overly simplistic approach ignores the complexity of cancer causation by considering neither how the substance causes cancer, nor the potency of that mode of action. Consequently, substances are classified simply as “carcinogenic”, compromising the opportunity to properly manage these kinds of substances. It will likely be very difficult, if not impossible, to incorporate New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) into binary schemes. In this paper we propose a new approach cancer classification scheme that segregates substances by both mode of action and potency into three categories and, as a consequence, provides useful guidance in the regulation and management of substances with carcinogenic potential. Examples are given, including aflatoxin (category A), trichlorethylene (category B), and titanium dioxide (category C), which demonstrate the clear differentiation among these substances that generate appropriate levels of concern and management options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2419-2428
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Toxicology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Approach
  • Carcinogenicity
  • Classification
  • Methodology
  • Mew

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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