The objectives of carcinogenicity studies are to identify a tumorigenic potential in animals and to assess the relevant risk in humans. Any cause for concern derived from laboratory investigations, animal toxicology studies, and data in humans may lead to a need for carcinogenicity studies. The practice of requiring carcinogenicity studies in rodents was instituted for pharmaceuticals that were expected to be administered regularly over a substantial part of a patient's lifetime. The design and interpretation of the results from these studies preceded much of the available current technology to test for genotoxic potential and the more recent advances in technologies to assess systemic exposure. These studies also preceded our current understanding of tumorigenesis with nongenotoxic agents. Results from genotoxicity studies, toxicokinetics, and mechanistic studies can now be routinely applied in preclinical safety assessment. These additional data are important not only in considering whether to perform carcinogenicity studies but for interpreting study outcomes with respect to relevance for human safety. Since carcinogenicity studies are time consuming and resource intensive, they should be performed only when human exposure warrants the need for information from life-time studies in animals in order to assess carcinogenic potential.
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