Recurrent chromosomal rearrangements with the formation of fusion genes have been traditionally associated with hematologic and mesenchymal neoplasms. This view has cultivated the erroneous impression that the oncogenic mechanisms present in these tumors are fundamentally different from those found in epithelial neoplasms. In spite of the fact that, as a group, most epithelial tumors apparently show a higher degree of chromosomal instability, a careful and critical analysis of both relatively older findings and several more recent discoveries has shown that some common mechanistic denominators occur in all forms of neoplasms independent of their line of differentiation. The aim of this review is to briefly review and discuss the occurrence, mechanisms and biologic relevance of chromosomal rearrangements and fusion genes in epithelial neoplasia with a special emphasis in thyroid, head and neck, kidney, breast, prostate, and lung neoplasms.
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