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Understanding Cancer Series

  • Posted: 01/28/2005
  • Reviewed: 09/30/2009

Slide 49

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Cancer Tends to Involve Multiple Mutations

Cancer may begin because of the accumulation of mutations involving oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, and DNA repair genes. For example, colon cancer can begin with a defect in a tumor suppressor gene that allows excessive cell proliferation. The proliferating cells then tend to acquire additional mutations involving DNA repair genes, other tumor suppressor genes, and many other growth-related genes. Over time, the accumulated damage can yield a highly malignant, metastatic tumor. In other words, creating a cancer cell requires that the brakes on cell growth (tumor suppressor genes) be released at the same time that the accelerators for cell growth (oncogenes) are being activated.

Cancer Tends to Involve Multiple Mutations