The variety of mutations associated with carcinogenesis, along with variations in penetrance and environmental factors, complicate the genetic screening for cancer predisposition. It is proposed here that the detection of inherent genome instability as determined by increased mutagen susceptibility may enhance the identification of populations at risk for cancer. In support for this hypothesis, our analysis reveals a strong association between mutagen-induced chromosomal instability in peripheral blood lymphocytes and the propensity for cancers of oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and lung. DNA instability in response to a variety of mutagens identifies patients with gastrointestinal, brain, endocrine, breast, skin, and hematologic tumors as well as individuals with cancer family syndromes. Induced genome instability therefore appears to be strongly linked to cancer predisposition, and prospective studies may yield a screening test utilizing a panel of mutagens to better identify populations at risk.