Professor Douglas Hanahan discusses how cancers kill you, in general, not just because they grow into a large lump, but because they invade into normal tissues and disrupt the functions of those tissues.
In 2000, Douglas Hanahan (shown below) and Robert Weinberg published a paper in Cell, "The Hallmarks of Cancer," which identified some organizing principles of cancer cell development.
“Cancers kill you, in general, not just because they grow into a large lump, but because they invade into normal tissues and disrupt the functions of those tissues and they develop the ability to migrate to distant sites in the body. And these capabilities of invasion and metastasis, which are very closely linked but perhaps have separable aspects as well, are very important for the fatality of most cancers. And this is the one that's perhaps least connected to simple cell growth and accumulation of the cells, but actually are producing cells that really are able to sustain themselves, expand, and migrate.”
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Professor Douglas Hanahan explains that a fundamental property of multi-cellular organisms is the capability to have cells commit suicide or undergo apoptosis, which is a form of programmed cell death.
Professor Douglas Hanahan, discusses that due to the nature of the replication machinery chromosomes get smaller every time they divide, and that we now appreciate that specialized cells in the body have a way to counteract this telomere shorting.
Professor Douglas Hanahan explains that not only are there positive signals that tell cells to grow but there are negative signals to stop such proliferation, and loss of the negative growth control signals is a common denominator for many cancers.
Professor Douglas Hanahan discusses how cancer cells require a source of nutrients and oxygen, which is supplied through new blood vessel growth – the process of angiogenesis, which is critical for almost all cancers.