Related topics: cancer · breast cancer · cells · tumor cells · protein

Nanoparticle therapy targets lymph node metastases

Metastasis, in which cancer cells break free from the primary tumor and form tumors at other sites, worsens the prognosis for many cancer patients. The lymph nodes—glands of the immune system located throughout the body—are ...

Direct detection of circulating tumor cells in blood samples

Tumor cells circulating in blood are markers for the early detection and prognosis of cancer. However, detection of these cells is challenging because of their scarcity. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, scientists have now ...

Chemotherapy drugs react differently to radiation while in water

Cancer treatment often involves a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Chemotherapy uses medication to stop cancer cells reproducing, but the medication affects the entire body. Radiotherapy uses radiation to kill ...

A 'switch' that regulates traffic across blood vessels

NUS scientists have discovered a control mechanism that regulates the traffic of cells and substances across blood vessels. This effect can have significant impact on cancer metastasis.

What can you do with two omes that you can't do with one?

What can you learn from two omes that you can't tell from one? You might determine how different bacterial strains in a water sample contribute specific functions to its overall microbiome. You might find that duplication ...

Scientists develop novel nano-vaccine for melanoma

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a novel nano-vaccine for melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer. Their innovative approach has so far proven effective in preventing the development of melanoma ...

Researchers make critical cell division discovery

Researchers at the University of Dundee have solved one of the mysteries of cell division, a discovery which may shed light on cancer development and one day help develop new drugs to treat the disease.

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Cancer

Cancer (medical term: malignant neoplasm) is a class of diseases in which a group of cells display uncontrolled growth (division beyond the normal limits), invasion (intrusion on and destruction of adjacent tissues), and sometimes metastasis (spread to other locations in the body via lymph or blood). These three malignant properties of cancers differentiate them from benign tumors, which are self-limited, and do not invade or metastasize. Most cancers form a tumor but some, like leukemia, do not. The branch of medicine concerned with the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer is oncology.

Cancer may affect people at all ages, even fetuses, but the risk for most varieties increases with age. Cancer causes about 13% of all human deaths. According to the American Cancer Society, 7.6 million people died from cancer in the world during 2007. Cancers can affect all animals.

Nearly all cancers are caused by abnormalities in the genetic material of the transformed cells. These abnormalities may be due to the effects of carcinogens, such as tobacco smoke, radiation, chemicals, or infectious agents. Other cancer-promoting genetic abnormalities may be randomly acquired through errors in DNA replication, or are inherited, and thus present in all cells from birth. The heritability of cancers are usually affected by complex interactions between carcinogens and the host's genome. New aspects of the genetics of cancer pathogenesis, such as DNA methylation, and microRNAs are increasingly recognized as important.

Genetic abnormalities found in cancer typically affect two general classes of genes. Cancer-promoting oncogenes are typically activated in cancer cells, giving those cells new properties, such as hyperactive growth and division, protection against programmed cell death, loss of respect for normal tissue boundaries, and the ability to become established in diverse tissue environments. Tumor suppressor genes are then inactivated in cancer cells, resulting in the loss of normal functions in those cells, such as accurate DNA replication, control over the cell cycle, orientation and adhesion within tissues, and interaction with protective cells of the immune system.

Diagnosis usually requires the histologic examination of a tissue biopsy specimen by a pathologist, although the initial indication of malignancy can be symptoms or radiographic imaging abnormalities. Most cancers can be treated and some cured, depending on the specific type, location, and stage. Once diagnosed, cancer is usually treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. As research develops, treatments are becoming more specific for different varieties of cancer. There has been significant progress in the development of targeted therapy drugs that act specifically on detectable molecular abnormalities in certain tumors, and which minimize damage to normal cells. The prognosis of cancer patients is most influenced by the type of cancer, as well as the stage, or extent of the disease. In addition, histologic grading and the presence of specific molecular markers can also be useful in establishing prognosis, as well as in determining individual treatments.

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