NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

The NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms features 8,545 terms related to cancer and medicine.

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signaling pathway
(SIG-nuh-ling …)
Describes a series of chemical reactions in which a group of molecules in a cell work together to control a cell function, such as cell division or cell death. A cell receives signals from its environment when a molecule, such as a hormone or growth factor, binds to a specific protein receptor on or in the cell. After the first molecule in the pathway receives a signal, it activates another molecule. This process is repeated through the entire signaling pathway until the last molecule is activated and the cell function is carried out. Abnormal activation of signaling pathways may lead to diseases, such as cancer. Drugs are being developed to target specific molecules involved in these pathways. These drugs may help keep cancer cells from growing.