Login with Facebook

How cancer is developed - Cancer biology

Cancer is an uncontrolled proliferation of cells within the body. This proliferation leads to the formation of a mass called a tumor. The tumor will gradually invade the organ in which it was born, altering its functioning. Cells can, moreover, escape from this mass, diffuse in the organism and lead to the formation of secondary tumors. We then speak of metastases.

What is the difference between a healthy cell and a cancer cell?

Healthy cells in the body multiply in a controlled manner: they divide when necessary and are programmed to only multiply a finite number of times. When they have divided too many times or when they show damage that cannot be repaired, they die.

Conversely, the multiplication of cancer cells is out of control. These cells can divide ad infinitum. They also have the ability to induce the formation of blood vessels which will provide them with the oxygen and nutrients necessary for their multiplication. Some of them are also capable of detaching from the tissue of which they are initially part to migrate elsewhere in the body and lead to the formation of secondary tumors (metastases).

How cancer is developed?

How does cancer start?

Cancers arise from initially healthy and functional cells which have become abnormal as a result of the accumulation of alterations in their genetic makeup (DNA). These alterations (or mutations) will lead to deregulation, or even inactivation of the systems which normally allow cell division to be controlled. The cell then becomes capable of proliferating in an anarchic manner to lead to the formation of a tumor. Healthy cells have a system to detect DNA damage and repair it. When an abnormality is detected, cell division is momentarily stopped to allow its repair. If the lesion cannot be repaired, the cell sets off a program that leads to its death. This phenomenon called “apoptosis” is likened to cell suicide.

Everything becomes complicated when DNA damage affects the regions themselves involved in these processes: if mutations appear in the genes necessary for the detection of abnormalities or for triggering the cell suicide program, the cell will continue to isolate itself. It is the first step in the transformation of a healthy cell into a cancerous cell. The accumulation of other abnormalities will then lead this cell to lose its initial function and acquire properties allowing it to give rise to a malignant tumor, capable of developing to the detriment of the surrounding healthy cells and migrating to other regions of the cell in the body.

How can cell DNA be damaged?

Exposure to different substances, natural or artificial, called mutagens, can lead to the appearance of lesions in the DNA of our cells. These can be industrial chemicals or chemicals such as those found in tobacco smoke, alcohol, ionizing radiation (radioactivity) or solar radiation (UV), viruses (papillomavirus) or bacteria.

Cell dysfunction:

Checkpoints are programmed between each phase of the cell cycle, in order to verify that the current process is proceeding normally. This is an opportunity for the cell to identify the occurrence of possible abnormalities in its cell cycle and to trigger either an action to correct these errors or its self-destruction (apoptosis).

If these errors are not fixed, they accumulate. It is this accumulation, over the divisions, which is at the origin of cancer. It is considered that about ten mutations are needed for the phenomenon of cancerization to appear. The abnormalities that occur are genetic mutations, caused by errors during the replication - or reproduction - of DNA, and therefore genes, when the cell divides.

In the majority of cases, these mutations occur in the DNA of a somatic cell of a particular tissue, for example, in the DNA of a colon cell. Somatic cells refer to all the cells in the body that are not involved in reproduction and fertilization, in other words, all the cells in the body except eggs and sperm. For this reason, the mutation will not be passed on to the offspring. We speak of irregular form when it is these so-called somatic mutations that are involved in cancer. These sporadic forms of cancer are contrasted with the rare hereditary forms which are the subject of a later paragraph.


These mutations are due either to chance or to exposure to a risk factor. We say that they are acquired. The error that occurs in DNA can take different forms and lead to different types of mutations:

- These can be point mutations which cause very slight variations in the DNA and generate polymorphisms, without consequence in most cases. They say the mutation is silent. However, it should be noted that research is underway to elucidate the role of certain polymorphisms in the occurrence, for example, of bronchial cancer.

- These may be more complex point mutations leading to more serious effects.

- Finally, it may be more significant abnormalities involving entire genes such as deletions (losses) or translocations (exchanges) of chromosomes or parts of chromosome. For example, a part of a chromosome can break off and go to deposit on another. It is this type of phenomenon that is found in chronic myeloid leukemia where a translocation occurs between chromosomes 9 and 22.


Three categories of genes have been identified which, once altered by mutations, can participate in the onset of the cancerization process. They are:

- "Proto-oncogenes": their role is to promote normal cell proliferation. A mutation in these genes - which then become "oncogenes" - can result in an activation of their function, which leads to an abnormal stimulation of cell proliferation.

- "Tumor suppressor" genes: On the contrary, they have the role of slowing down the normal proliferation of cells. A mutation in these genes can cause their function to be inactivated or reduced, which also results in an abnormal stimulation of cell proliferation.

- Genes that allow the cell to repair its DNA when it is damaged: the deficiency of these genes plays a key role in the appearance of cancers.

We already know more than a hundred oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, as well as numerous DNA repair genes. Current research on some of these genes could lead to new avenues of treatment.

What about genetic predispositions to cancer?

The transformation of a healthy cell into a cancerous cell involves the accumulation of several lesions in the DNA of the cells. Some people are born with one or more lesions already present in their DNA, often passed on by their parents. These people have a greater risk than the general population of developing cancer because the transformation of their cells has already started when they are born. We are therefore talking about genetic predisposition to cancer.

What developments?

Since the 1980s, the frequency of cancer (i.e. the number of new cases diagnosed each year) has practically doubled. It is estimated that the increase in this index increased by 93% in men and 84% in women. At the same time, the risk of dying from the disease has fallen by almost 25%.

The increase in the incidence of the disease is partly explained by the evolution of our demographics. As the risk of cancer increases with age, there is a mechanical increase in the number of people potentially affected by the disease. The establishment of screening campaigns and the improvement of diagnostic techniques have also contributed to this evolution in the incidence of cancer and more cases can be detected.

The decrease in mortality associated with the disease is also linked to the progress made in the detection and diagnosis of cancers: discovered earlier and qualified in a more precise manner, cancers can be treated much more effectively than before. . Improvements in therapeutic strategies and the development of new, more effective and better tolerated treatments are obviously also at the origin of this positive development in cancer-associated mortality.

Finally, changes in behavior , in particular the decline in smoking  and excessive alcohol consumption observed in men over the past few decades have contributed to the reduction in the number of deaths caused by certain cancers ( lung cancer , cancer of the breast, head and neck). In women, the opposite trend is observed: the increase in smoking has led to an increase in the incidence and mortality from lung cancer.

Mechanism of Cancer

Different stages have been identified in the development of cancer: initiation, promotion and progression. First, a major lesion occurs in the DNA of a cell; the result is a transformation of this cell. Secondly, the transformed cell develops and proliferates, forming a group of identical transformed cells. Finally, in a third step, the cell acquires the characteristics of a cancerous cell: it multiplies in an anarchic manner, partly losing its differentiated character (its identity linked to the tissue to which it belonged).

The evolution first occurs locally, and then can spread via the blood and lymph to other places in the body where metastases form.


This transformation of the normal cell into a cancerous cell is a long process, which can last for decades. At the end of this transformation, the cancer cell has acquired a number of characteristics:

- its independence from the signals that usually regulate (promote or slow down) its growth and division,

- its ability to escape the process of programmed cell death,

- Its ability to divide indefinitely.

How does a tumor develop?

Cancer cells are "abnormal" cells engaged in an anarchic process where they accumulate abnormalities.

From cancer cell to tumor

The uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells will result in the formation of a malignant tumor.

- As soon as the tumor reaches 1 or 2 millimeter (s), the cancer cells trigger angiogenesis, i.e. the formation of new blood vessels which irrigate and supply the tumor. Without this blood supply, the tumor could not continue to grow.

- Cancer cells seep into nearby healthy tissue and escape from their place of origin to develop secondary tumors (metastases) in other organs.

- Cancer cells “hijack” the cells around them for their own benefit and use them to their advantage. A tumor is always formed by an agglomeration of cancer cells and normal cells that work together. 

Successive stages of cancer development

In the absence of treatment, the majority of "solid" tumors (cancers) evolve by always following the same stages, but at very variable speeds and according to methods specific to each type of cancer:

- Stage 1: The disease begins with a precancerous lesion that contains cells in the process of transformation. Not all precancerous lesions necessarily lead to cancer.

- Stage 2: A cancer cell appears and begins to multiply. At first, the small tumor remains localized in the original tissue.

- Stage 3: The tumor grows and begins to invade neighboring tissues. The metastases appear. Often, they first affect the lymph nodes. The metastases then spread to other organs and are responsible for most cancer deaths.

There are different stages (degrees of extension) of cancer.

- Stage 1: The tumor is single and small.

- Stage 2: the tumor is larger.

- Stage 3: The tumor invades the lymph nodes or surrounding tissue.

- Stage 4: presence of metastases in other organs distant from the original tumor.

How to analyze the development of cancer cells:

Tumor markers and medical imaging are central to the diagnosis. If suggestive symptoms or when a screening test has given a positive result, various examinations must be carried out to confirm or deny a diagnosis of cancer. If the diagnosis is confirmed, these examinations will also make it possible to specify the nature of the tumor, to know its degree of evolution and to detect the possible presence of metastases at a distance from the primary tumor. All of these elements are essential for the implementation of an appropriate treatment. Any diagnosis of cancer begins with a careful physical examination, most often followed by the ordering of a blood test and medical imaging tests. Blood tests ordered as part of a cancer diagnosis may include testing for tumor markers.

Tumor markers are molecules produced in excess by cancer cells. Some normal cells in the body can also synthesize these molecules, but in small quantities. Thus, when the concentration of a tumor marker rises in the blood or urine of a patient, it may correspond to the presence of a tumor in their body. However, the increase in the concentration of a tumor marker is not sufficient to establish a diagnosis: other pathologies, benign or malignant, can lead to the same effect. LikewiseCancer biology, a normal dosage of tumor markers is not sufficient to exclude a diagnosis of cancer. 

Author: Vicki Lezama

Need a custom

We will write it for you.
Order now

Free Essay Examples

Free essays:

All you need to know about Neuroendocrinology
All you need to know about Big data management
All you need to know about digital special effects
All you need to know Technical Writing?
Basics the Game Theory in Cryptoeconomics
Business innovation ideas for making money
Biosensors for cancer diagnosis
Business Analysis: Pricing strategies and Demand Curve
Cognitive Computing- How does Cognitive Computing work?
Consciousness: characteristics and peculiarities
Conservation Economics
Cybersecurity in business: challenges, risks, and practices
Demographic trends and how they affect Economic Growth
Dance as an art form and entertainment
Discrimination Economics
Determinants of Wages
Everything you need to know about short-term memory
Economic and Policy Impacts of Demographics
Ethics: an essay on the understanding of evil
Emotions: what are they? Theories explained
Factors of Demographic Data Collection
Factors Affecting Purchasing Behavior
Financial Statement Analysis
Factors Influencing Interest and Exchange Rates
Government's Intervention in The Labor Market
Guide on the Pathways of the nervous system
Game theory in microeconomics
Globalization: definition, causes, social impact and risks
How Relativism Promotes Pluralism and Tolerance
How to use the audience’s feedback to write a news report
History of silent cinema
How news report can be strengthened through multimedia
Introduction to Population Problems
Imperfect Information and Asymmetric Information
Imperfect Information in Insurance
Introduction to Labor Markets
Journalism: What is News?
Journalism: Broadcast media and Television Presenters
Journalism: Sources of News
Journalism and Law
Key Determinants of National Income
Key Factors That Affect Pricing Decisions
Kinetic models in biology and Related fields
Know about the different forms of traditional African dances
Latest technology trends
Latest dance trends
Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
Microeconomic Analysis to the Demand for Labor
Neuromuscular disorders
National Economies, Fluctuation, and Responses to Fluctuations
Neurotransmitters: what they are and different types
Nanomedicines to target tumors
Objections to utilitarianism
Organizational motivation and its effects
Overcoming Hiring Challenges for Nonprofit Organization
Population Demographics
Recurrent neural networks (RNN) for speech detection
Russian School of Mathematics
Research and Development
Risk Sharing in Insurance and Asset Markets
Stochastic optimization methods in deep learning?
Structure of the nervous system
Structure of a Corporation
Schizoaffective disorder: how to live better with it
The climate change denial
The techniques of basic cinematography
The Endosymbiotic Theory
The Role of Internal Audit in Corporate Risk Management
Utilitarianism Vs. Kantianism
Understanding Auctions and Auction Theory: Part 2
Various theoretical perspectives of sociology
Virtual reality, what it is and how it works
What are the linear models in machine learning?
What is Convolutional Neural Network
4 Facts about Origin of Mathematics!
5 techniques to create an animation
10 emerging technologies according to World Economic Forum
10 strategies to maximize corporate profits
3d Model Of Building
6 Medical Technologies that revolutionized the healthcare in 2020
All you need to know about the ACA Code of ethics
Architecture and Democracy: An Introduction
Architecture and Democracy: Democratic Values
Architecture and Democracy: Democratic Procedures
All You Need to Know About a Synthesis Essay
An essential guide to understanding Film Theory
Application of Artificial Intelligence in Cyber Security
Applications of electrical engineering
Augmented reality: what it is, how it works, examples
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Social Networking
All you need to know about Cryptography
Applications of astrophysical science
All you need to know about architecture engineering
Applications of geological engineering
Artificial intelligence and medicine: an increasingly close relationship
An insight into Computational Biology
ACA code of conduct
A Rose for Emily
Applications of Mathematics in daily life
Architecture mistakes to avoid
All you need to know about Toxicology
All you need to know about Holistic Medicine
All you need to know about linguistics
An introduction to Linguistics and its subfields
All you need to know about Anxiety disorder
All you need to know about Drones
A Brief Insight into Political Science
Assumptions related to feminism
All you need to know about Byzantine emperors
All you need to know about labour economics
An insight into xenobots -the first-ever robots
An ultimate guide about Biomaterials
A Comprehensive Introduction to the Mona Lisa
Analysis methods of Transport through biological membranes
An ultimate guide about biochemical reactions
Analysis of brain signals
Artificial Gene Synthesis
Application to synthetic biology of CAD methods
All you need to know about metabolic pathways
Applications of BIOMEMS
All you need to know about the epidemiology
Asian vs. western leadership styles
All you need to know about Smart prosthesis
Analysis of Economy: Output of Goods and Services (GNP), and GDP on Economic success
A Guide to Pricing Strategies
An Overview Of Economic Studies
Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policies
Analysis of Business Cycles
Analysis of Consumption and Investment
A Look into Regression Analysis
Analysis of Household's Consumption and Savings Behavior
All you need to know about Capital Budgeting
All you need to know about risk management
Art looted in wartime.
Appropriate use of Data in Economics
All you need to know about reaction kinetics?
A historical overview of Financial Crises
All you need to know about management discipline?
An insight into the error-correction models
All you need to know about Data visualization
All you need to know about Work-family balance
All you need to know Technical Writing?
All you need to know about digital special effects
All you need to know about Big data management
All you need to know about Neuroendocrinology
How to Write a Personal Essay
Housing Needs in America
How to Write a Description Essay
How to Create an Excellent Scholarship Essay?
How to write a cause and effect essay
How to Hire the Best Essay Writing Service Provider?
How to Write a College Application Essay?
How to get the most out of your English lectures
How to write Expository Essay
How to succeed in your psychology class?
How to Write an Academic Essay in the Shortest Time?
History of Journalism
How Different Sectors are Using Artificial intelligence (AI)
How to write an informative essay
How to deliver persuasive essays?
How to Give a Convincing Presentation
How to write an essay on leadership?
Historical Art Still Around Today
Humanoid robot: what it is, how it works and price
History of Chemistry
Healthcare Advanced Computer Power: Robotics, Medical Imaging, and More
Healthcare AI: Game Changers for Medical Decision-Making and Remote Patient Monitoring
How to understand different types of English
How to Cope with Chronic Pain
How African American choreographers and dancers have influenced American dance
How mobile robot can do in logistics or in production
How To Become a Successful Entrepreneur
History of the Philosophy of Feminism
How is the climate changing?
How to Track Your Content Marketing ROI
How to Gun control In the USA?
Historical and contemporary role of labour in the modern world
How breast cancers are classified?
How the cells of our body communicate?
How the Lymphatic System Works?
How Digestive System Works
How to complete your capstone projects effectively?
How to write a research project
Healthcare technologies that help patients with better self-management
How to choose the topic of the senior capstone project
How to make your business survive at economic crisis
How can immigrants blend in the American society?
How does the economics of war affect society?
Hate speech on social media.
How to Build an Economic Model
How to start a healthcare startup?
How can financial illiteracy harm you?
How cancer is developed - Cancer biology
How to define the Enterprise Value
How to conduct economic research?
How women can manage sexual harassment
How to use quotes in your news reports?
How news report can be strengthened through multimedia
History of silent cinema
How to use the audience’s feedback to write a news report
How Relativism Promotes Pluralism and Tolerance
Introduction to Urban Studies
Importance of dance in education
InMoov: how to build an open source humanoid robot
Importance of KYC verification to making the Blockchain secure
Importance of Rhythm
Importance of dance student evaluation
I/O control methods -types and explanations
Identity theft: what to do?
Introduction to Utilitarianism
Importance of 3d Modelling in Architecture
Importance of online journalism
Image processing in medical diagnosis
Introduction to USA Politics
Introduction to Comparative Politics
International Relations as a Major in Political Science
Importance of modern trade policy
Introduction to Journalism
Introduction to Writing a TV Script
Introduction of Microfabrication techniques
Introduction to Microeconomics
Interaction of Consumer and Firm Choices in Markets
Importance of corporate sustainability
Issues in International Monetary Macroeconomics
Introduction to Statistics and Data for Economics
Introduction to Data and Probability for Economics
Introduction to the Game Theory
Introduction to Econometrics
Introduction to Economic Information
Introduction to Market Equilibrium
Introduction to Economic Models and Application
Introduction to Empirical Research
Introduction to Econometric Data
Importance of Critical Thinking, Principles, and Goals
Introduction to Identification and Causal inferences
Introduction to Econometric Application
Intermediaries and Government in Financial Crisis
Importance and seven principles of quality management
Illiteracy in the USA
Introduction to Economics of Law
Introduction to Coase Theorem
Introduction to Social Choice and Incarceration
Intellectual Property and Product Liability
Investment in Human Capital
Introduction to Labor Markets
Imperfect Information in Insurance
Imperfect Information and Asymmetric Information
Introduction to Population Problems
The Looming Energy Crisis in America
Top benefits of performance-based engineering
The More Languages You Know, The More Times You Are a Man
Things to consider while writing an Argumentative Essay
Top Ways to Improve Your Academic Writing Skills
Tips to Excel in Creative Writing
The origins of films in the early 19th century
Top career options in Architecture
The Elevator Pitch
Top finance trends 2020
The basic Structure and functionality of robots
The Way to Success
The election system of the President in the United States of America
Two-party System in United States of America
Top trends in urban design
The history and theory of African American filmmaking
Top benefits of creative writing
Tinnitus Guide: Common Symptoms and Treatment Options
The language of dance
The digital image processing management
Top famous politicians of the World
Top methods of political science!
The history of the feminist movement
The blood flow in cardiovascular system - Biofluid Mechanics
The best of Leonardo Da Vinci
The Structure and Function of Macromolecules
The structure of cell: a research on the bricks of the human body!
Tissue and organ construction: Adhesion and recognition between cells
The kinetics of the transformation processes
The Modeling of Biological Systems
Tips for writing a great thesis statement
The Defense mechanisms against infections
The impact of the technological innovations in medicine
Top journalism trends to know about
The relation between mass media & politics
Theranostics: Diagnosis and Care through Nanoparticles
The practical Applications of X-rays
The applications of Ultrasound in medicine
Transfer mechanisms of genetic information in Bacteria
The regulation of cellular metabolism in the diagnosis
The Principles of MRI Contrast agents
The technical basis of optical coherence imaging
The New Media: Emerging Trends
The Structure of Interest Rates and the Yield Curve
Technological perspectives and reflections of neural engineering
Types of bioreactors and their applications
The Role of Government Policy in Improving Economic Outcomes
Types of corporate responsibility
The Role of IMF in International Monetary Macroeconomics
Tools for investment decision making
The concept of Organizational Culture and its applications
The Conduct of Monetary and Fiscal Policy
The Basics of Financial Accelerator Models
Tips for labeling medical devices- Medical Entrepreneurship
The different medical imaging techniques
The Economics of Uncertainty – Introduction
Theories of Public Policy
The Game Theory in Social Media
The political theory of Thomas Hobbes
The Use of Law on Economics and Vice Versa
The Role of Internal Audit in Corporate Risk Management
The Endosymbiotic Theory
The techniques of basic cinematography
The climate change denial
What is a Definition Essay?
What are diagnostic essays?
What is the relation between art structural engineering?
What is a Narrative Essay
What are robotics and intelligence systems?
What are the benefits of studying health sciences?
What is artificial intelligence and why it matters?
What is comparative Literature?
Why study neuroscience
What is Wi-Fi and how does it works
What is French history famous for?
What are Humanistic Studies?
What is covered in Biophysics?
What is modern journalism?
What is Virtualization? Benefits & Applications
What are modern public relations?
What is plasma physics?
What is teacher preparation?
What is rapid prototyping for 3D printing?
What is contemporary European Politics?
Why should you learn American Ballet?
What is engineering physics?
What is the purpose of African American Literature?
Ways to learn the Rhythm
What is digital art used for?
What are Enzymes and how do they work
Who is the father of political science?
Why Study Political Science - Job?
What is the Philosophy of Feminism?
What is a quantum computer?
Ways B2B Startups Streamline Their Conversion Strategies
Why do biomedical signals need processing?
What are the long term effects of climate change?
Why study labour relations
What is Holoprosencephaly?
What is antisocial disorder?
What are the important principles of evolution?
What is the cytoplasm and its function?
What is biopolymers?
What Makes a Good Leader
Women empowerment in modern generation
What is the history of political thought?
What is Gene recombination
What is synthetic biology
What is business cost analysis?
What is Inflation
What are the consequences of unemployment?
What is lithotripsy and its types?
What is transition elastography?
What is the purpose of deep brain stimulation?
What is a Brain-Computer Interface (BCI)
What is neuroethics?
What is Market and Supply and Demand
What is optogenetics?
What are the techniques to record brain activity?
What happens if the interest rate increases?
What is immunotherapy?
What is the economic role of the financial market?
What are the factors behind illegal immigration?
What is the lymphocyte activation?
What is financial market and its types?
What is the structure of financial markets?
What are the methods of measuring business performance?
What is the Credit market?
What is business ethics and code of ethics
What are the Causes of financial instability?
What is MBA with Concentrations
What is regenerative medicine?
What is Population ecology?
What is Microfinance: evolution, and practices?
What is biotechnology and its applications?
What are Workplace diversity and its benefits?
What is the difference between a leader and a manager?
What Is Branding and best branding Business strategies?
Why are microelectronics important?
What are biologic drugs.
What is the Foreign Exchange market?
What is the role of scientific research in times of crisis?
What are the risks of international trade?
What is financial management?
What is gene therapy?
What is education economics?
What is regression analysis, and why should you use it?
What Is Technology Marketing And How Should It Work?
What is Management Accounting
What are the methods of valuation of companies?
What is Immune System and Immunotherapy?
What is big data analytics?
What is the 7 layers of OSI model?
What is Neuroplasticity?
What are Sculpture art and its types?
What are the different genres of films?
What is Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)?
What is TES-Transcranial electrical stimulation?
What is Relativism?
What is Vaccine skepticism, and what to do about it?
What happens in the brain when learning?
What is the deep neural network?
What is Convolutional Neural Network
What are the linear models in machine learning?