A major thrust of cancer research aims at identifying compounds and strategies that can either delay the development of cancer in humans, or even eliminate it entirely. The public health benefits would be tremendous. Many of these compounds and strategies can be evaluated in rat models.
A wide range of agents have been evaluated for utility in chemoprevention of esophageal carcinoma using rats at the model. Similarly, methods to potentially inhibit the development of cancer have been investigated for hepatocellular carcinoma in the rat system, which could lead to a chemopreventative strategy.
Parallel experimental studies with potential chemoprevention agents can help to understand the similarities and the differences between humans and rodent models of colon cancer, and aid in the selection of appropriate rat models. Dietary chemopreventative influences on the development of colon cancer and on prostate cancer have been studied in this manner.
Some of the work aimed at understanding the process of mammary carcinogenesis provides potential leads to prevention strategies. Research in rats has also demonstrated that prenatal exposure to carcinogens could play a role in predisposition to this cancer, and therefore the window of prevention strategies needs to encompass this phase.
Increasingly it will be possible to combine comparative genetics approaches with the appropriate rat model to investigate prevention strategies like those described for breast cancer.