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Basics of Cancer Biology – Part 1

Basics of Cancer Biology – Part 1

In this blog series by Dr. Nishant Vyas we will discuss the basics of cancer biology and explore the main areas that include:

  • Basic definitions & properties of cancer cells
  • Different aspects of cancer biology
  • Different mechanisms of tumour progression
  • Some special aspects of cancer biology

Dr. Nishant Vyas is the Technical Head (R&D, Contract Research) at Nirav Biosolutions Pvt. Ltd. and a leading scientist (Ph. D, Onco-immunology, Post Doc, Stem Cell Research). Other than research he is very much interested in teaching biology to the students from High school to University in any field of biology.

Through this blog series, our effort is to not only help start your studies in the field of cancer biology but also create a sense of curiosity in your mind about a very interesting subject and an intriguing disease which is called as cancer. So, let’s proceed…

Basic Definitions & Properties of Cancer

There are three basic properties through which we cancer or tumour or tumour cells are defined.

  • Uncontrollable Growth – Cancer cells grow uncontrollably. This means that the cancer cells do not depend upon external signals to divide. They can divide without following the rules and regulations of the cell cycle.
  • Unrestrained Spread – Cancer cells spread throughout the body in an unrestrained way. This means they can go from one organ to another organ and can generate new tumours in new organ sites. This property is called metastasis.
  • Growth in Any Type of Organ – Cancer cells can grow almost in any organ. Researchers and scientists have found out that cancer cells can grow in any part of the body, even our bones and hair.

Different Names or Classes of Cancer

Based on the aforementioned (mainly point no. 3), cancers are divided into different classes or are defined with different names, that are:

  1. Carcinomas – these are cancer that arises from an epithelial cell system. Examples – lung, breast & colon cancers – lung carcinoma, breast carcinoma, colon carcinoma, etc.
  2.  Sarcomas – These arise from the supporting cells system like muscles, bones, fat cells, etc.
  3. Lymphomas – These arise from liquid tissue from the blood cells or lymphatic system and grow in solid tissues. The best examples of this are Burkitt’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  4. Leukemias- These also arise from liquid tissue from the blood cells or lymphatic system, but they grow in bloodstream and bone marrow.

In the next parts of this blog series, we will discuss the basic definitions & properties of cancer cells in detail. So, stay tuned with us. To read part 2 – Click Here.

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