Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells divide without control.  These cells can create their own growth signals, avoid apoptosis and immune destruction, invade neighbouring tissues, undergo metastasis and angiogenesis and alter energy metabolism.  Cancer genes are divided into oncogenes that promote cell growth, and suppressor genes that inhibit cell division and survival.  Malignant transformation can occur through the formation of novel oncogenes, the over-expression of normal oncogenes, or the disabling of suppressor genes.  Most human cancers (90–95% of cases) are due to genetic mutations from environmental factors, with the remainder caused by inherited genetic defects.

Further reading

Dang et al (2017) Drugging the 'undruggable' cancer targets. Nat. Rev. Cancer 17 502

Karki et al (2017) Inflammasomes and Cancer. Cancer Immunol. Res. 5(2) 94 DOI: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-16-0269

The ICGC/TCGA Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes Consortium (2020) Pan-cancer analysis of whole genomes Nature 578(7793) 82 PMID: 32025007

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