Hazard identification, classification, and risk assessment of carcinogens: too much or too little?–Report of an ECETOC workshop

Susan P. Felter, Alan R. Boobis, Philip A. Botham, Alice Brousse, Helmut Greim, Heli M. Hollnagel, Ursula G. Sauer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals (ECETOC) organized a workshop “Hazard Identification, Classification and Risk Assessment of Carcinogens: Too Much or Too Little?” to explore the scientific limitations of the current binary carcinogenicity classification scheme that classifies substances as either carcinogenic or not. Classification is often based upon the rodent 2-year bioassay, which has scientific limitations and is not necessary to predict whether substances are likely human carcinogens. By contrast, tiered testing strategies founded on new approach methodologies (NAMs) followed by subchronic toxicity testing, as necessary, are useful to determine if a substance is likely carcinogenic, by which mode-of-action effects would occur and, for non-genotoxic carcinogens, the dose levels below which the key events leading to carcinogenicity are not affected. Importantly, the objective is not for NAMs to mimic high-dose effects recorded in vivo, as these are not relevant to human risk assessment. Carcinogenicity testing at the “maximum tolerated dose” does not reflect human exposure conditions, but causes major disturbances of homeostasis, which are very unlikely to occur at relevant human exposure levels. The evaluation of findings should consider biological relevance and not just statistical significance. Using this approach, safe exposures to non-genotoxic substances can be established.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-95
Number of pages24
JournalCritical Reviews in Toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Non-genotoxic carcinogens
  • classification and labeling (C&L)
  • mode of action (MoA)
  • new approach methodologies (NAMs)
  • tiered testing strategy
  • weight of evidence (WoE)


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