Cancer is a group of diseases that exhibit uncontrolled growth, invasion of adjacent tissues, and sometimes metastasis (the movement of cancer cells through the blood or lymph). In cancer cells, the regulatory mechanisms that control cell division and limit abnormal growth have been disrupted, usually by the accumulation of several mutations. Cancer is therefore essentially a genetic disease. Although some cancer-‐related mutations may be heritable, most cancers are sporadic, meaning they arise from new mutations that occur in the individual who has the disease. In this chapter we will examine the connection between cancer and genes.
- 8.1: Classification of Cancers
- Cancers can be classified based on the tissues in which they originate. Sarcomas are cancers that originate in mesoderm tissues, such as bone or muscle, and cancers arising in glandular tissues (e.g. breast, prostate) are classified as adenocarcinomas. Carcinomas originate in epithelial cells (both inside the body and on its surface) and are the most common types of cancer (~85%)
- 8.4: Oncogenes
- Genes that are a part of the normal regulation of cell division, but which after mutation contribute to cancer, are called proto-oncogenes. Once a proto-oncogene has been abnormally activated by mutation, it is called an oncogene. More than 100 genes have been defined as proto-oncogenes. These include genes at almost every step of the signaling pathways that normally induce cell to divide, including growth factors, receptors, signal transducers, and transcription factors.
Contributors and Attributions
Dr. Todd Nickle and Isabelle Barrette-Ng (Mount Royal University) The content on this page is licensed under CC SA 3.0 licensing guidelines.