Some genetic diseases may increase the cellular instability. Since most human tumors have some genetic base, this study was undertaken for the genetic instability in cancer patients by micronucleus analysis, a mutation-screening test, which is more practical and economic technique than metaphase analysis carried out for chromosomal aberrations. Genetic changes were assessed in untreated cancer patients (lung, stomach and colon cancer) by different genotoxical screening methods: the cytokinesis-block micronucleus test and the buccal mucosa cell micronucleus test. The evaluation of micronuclei number in peripheral blood lymphocytes and buccal cells showed genomic instability in somatic cells. There was a significant increase in the number of micronuclei in cancer patients prior to the initiation of chemotherapy, and/or radiotherapy compared with healthy human subjects. Furthermore, there was no significant difference between smokers and non-smoking groups or male and female groups. These results suggest that cancer in humans is characterized by an increase of chromosomal damage and thus, the micronucleus assay carried out here may be useful in routine cytogenetic studies of cancer.