Genetic development of cancer
The development of cancer is a multi-step process involving a series of mutations.
- A cancer usually begins when an oncogene is activated via the mutation of a proto-oncogene. This causes cell replication and division to occur more rapidly.
- Tumour suppressor genes are often inactivated leading to formation of a benign tumour.
- As mutations accumulate in the cell genome, more oncogenes are turned on and more tumour suppressor genes are switched off. This eventually leads to the formation of a malignant tumour.
- These cells are now cancerous; they have the ability to damage surrounding tissue and metastasise (spread to other parts of the body).