Mutagen produces mutations in the DNA
In genetics, a mutagen is a physical or chemical agent that changes the genetic material, usually DNA, of an organism and thus increases the frequency of mutations above the natural background level. As many mutations can cause cancer, mutagens are therefore also likely to be carcinogens, although not always necessarily so. All mutagens have characteristic mutational signatures with some chemicals becoming mutagenic through cellular processes. Not all mutations are caused by mutagens: so-called "spontaneous mutations" occur due to spontaneous hydrolysis, errors in DNA replication, repair and recombination.
Mutagens can cause changes to the DNA and are therefore genotoxic. They can affect the transcription and replication of the DNA, which in severe cases can lead to cell death. The mutagen produces mutations in the DNA, and deleterious mutation can result in aberrant, impaired or loss of function for a particular gene, and accumulation of mutations may lead to cancer. Mutagens may therefore be also carcinogens. However, some mutagens exert their mutagenic effect through their metabolites, and therefore whether such mutagens actually become carcinogenic may be dependent on the metabolic processes of an organism, and a compound shown to be mutagenic in one organism may not necessarily be carcinogenic in another.