Clinical Oncology: Case Reports

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Perspective, Clin Oncol Case Rep Vol: 5 Issue: 11

The Causes and Development of Cancer

Aakshi Kainthola* , Divya Chauhan

Department of Lifesciences, Graphic Era Deemed to be University, Uttarakhand, India

*Corresponding Author: Aakshi Kainthola
Department of Lifesciences, Graphic Era Deemed to be University, Uttarakhand, India
E-mail: [email protected]

Received: November 04, 2022; Manuscript No: COCR-22-80341;
Editor Assigned: November 06, 2022; PreQC Id: COCR-22-80341 (PQ);
Reviewed: November 20, 2022; QC No: COCR-22-80341 (Q);
Revised: November 22, 2022; Manuscript No: COCR-22-80341 (R);
Published: November 29, 2022; DOI: 10.4172/cocr.5(11).260

Citation: Kainthola A, Chauhan D (2022) The Causes and Development of Cancer. Clin Oncol Case Rep 5:11


The ongoing, unchecked multiplication of cancer cells is the basic defect that leads to the development of cancer. Cancer cells proliferate and divide uncontrollably, infecting healthy tissues and organs, and eventually spreading throughout the body. They do this instead of adequately reacting to the signals that regulate normal cell behavior. As a result of accumulating aberrations in numerous cell regulatory systems, cancer cells demonstrate a broad loss of growth control that is reflected in a number of behaviors that set them apart from normal cells.

Keywords: Cancer cells; Growth; Causes; Development; Proliferation


There are more than a hundred different varieties of cancer, each with a unique behavior and response to treatment. Cancer can be caused by the abnormal multiplication of any type of cell in the body. The difference between benign and malignant tumors is the most crucial aspect of cancer pathology. Any aberrant cell proliferation, whether benign or malignant, is referred to as a tumor. A benign tumor, like a typical skin wart, stays in its original position and doesn't invade nearby healthy tissue or spread to other parts of the body. However, a malignant tumor has the capacity to both travel throughout the body through the circulatory or lymphatic systems and invade nearby normal tissue (metastasis). Only malignant tumors are appropriately referred to as cancers and the danger of cancer stems from its propensity to infiltrate and spread. While benign tumors may typically be surgically removed, malignant tumors are frequently resistant to such targeted treatment due to their tendency to metastasize to distant body regions.

The type of cell that a tumor originates from determines whether it is benign or malignant. Carcinomas, sarcomas, and leukemia’s or lymphomas are the three primary categories into which the majority of malignancies fall. About 90% of all cancers in humans are carcinomas, which are malignancies of the epithelial cells. Human sarcomas are uncommon solid tumors that develop in connective tissues such muscle, bone, cartilage, and fibrous tissue. About 8% of all cases of cancer in people are leukemia’s and lymphomas, which are caused by immune system cells and blood-forming cells, respectively. The type of cell involved and the tissue of origin (for example, lung or breast carcinomas) are used to further categories tumors. For instance, fibroblasts give rise to fibro sarcomas, and erythroid leukemia’s to erythrocyte precursors (red blood cells). There are many different types of cancer, but just a few are common. In the US, more than a million new instances of cancer are discovered each year, and more than 500,000 people pass away from the disease. More than 75% of this overall cancer incidence is accounted for by cancers at 10 different body locations. The four most prevalent malignancies are those of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon/rectum, which together account for more than half of all cancer cases. Nearly 30% of all cancer-related fatalities are caused by lung cancer, which is by far the most deadly.

The manifestation of cancer

Tumor locality, which refers to the growth of tumors from solitary cells that start to multiply abnormally, is one of the essential characteristics of cancer. By examining X chromosome inactivation, it has been shown that many cancers have single-cell origins. In female cells, the X chromosome is inactivated by becoming heterochromatin. One X chromosome may be inactive in some cells while the other X chromosome is inactive in other cells due to the random nature of X inactivation during embryonic development. As a result, if a female carries two copies of an X chromosome gene, different alleles will express themselves in various cells. Normal tissues of heterozygous females exhibit expression of both alleles because they are made up of combinations of cells with various dormant X chromosomes. On the other hand, heterozygous X chromosome genes are typically only expressed in one allele in tumor tissues. The assumption is that the pattern of X inactivation was fixed in a single cell of origin from which all the cells making up such a tumor descended before the tumor started to form.

However, the clonal origin of tumors does not always mean that the first progenitor cell that gives rise to a tumor has always possessed all the traits of a cancer cell. Contrarily, the onset of cancer is a multi-step process in which malignant cells gradually evolve through a series of changes. The fact that most tumors manifest in later life is one sign of the multistep evolution of cancer. For instance, the risk of developing colon cancer more than doubles between the ages of 30 and 50 and again by a factor of ten between the ages of 50 and 70. This sharp rise in cancer incidence with age shows that the majority of malignancies arise as a result of several anomalies that build up over long periods of time. At the molecular level, the emergence of cancer is thought to be a multi-step process that involves cell mutation and selection for cells with progressively higher proliferative, survival, invasive, and metastatic capacities. Tumor initiation, the first stage of the process, is believed to be the outcome of a genetic change that causes an aberrant proliferation of a single cell. The expansion of a population of clonally generated tumor cells follows cell proliferation. Additional mutations continue to arise inside the tumor population's cells as the tumor progresses. Some of these mutations give the cell a selection advantage, like faster growth, and the offspring of a cell with such a mutation will subsequently take over the tumor population.

Since a new clone of tumor cells has evolved because of its faster growth rate or other characteristics (such as survival, invasion, or metastasis) that provide a selective advantage, the process is known as clonal selection. Throughout the course of a tumor's development, clonal selection occurs, causing tumors to grow more quickly and turn more aggressive. Studies on colon cancers have given a very clear illustration of how a tumor develops during the course of a typical human malignancy. Colon epithelial cell proliferation is accelerated in the early stages of tumor growth. Then, it is believed that one of these proliferating cells may eventually develop into a small benign tumor (an adenoma or polyp). More clonal selection cycles result in the development of adenomas with higher proliferative potential and larger sizes. Then, from the benign adenomas, malignant carcinomas develop, which are identified by the invasion of the tumor cells through the basal lamina into underlying connective tissue. The colon wall's connective tissues are then used by the cancer cells to multiply and spread. The cancer cells eventually break through the colon's wall and spread to the bladder or small intestine, among other abdominal organs. Invading lymphatic and blood arteries also enables cancer cells to spread throughout the body.

Cancer causes

Cancer-causing substances, or carcinogens, have been identified through research on laboratory animals and epidemiological examination of cancer incidence rates in human populations (e.g., the high incidence of lung cancer among cigarette smokers). It is unduly simplistic to speak about a single cause for the majority of cancers because the formation of malignancy is a complex multistep process, and numerous factors may affect the risk that cancer will develop. However, it has been discovered that a variety of substances, including radiation, chemicals, and viruses, can cause cancer in both experimental animals and people. Both radiation and a variety of chemical carcinogens work by mutating DNA and causing damage. Since the generation of mutations in important target genes is thought to be the initial event leading to cancer development, these carcinogens are typically referred to as starting agents. Aflatoxin, tobacco smoke, and solar UV radiation, which is a key contributor to skin cancer, are some of the primary causes of human cancers (a potent liver carcinogen produced by some molds that contaminate improperly stored supplies of peanuts and other grains). The primary recognized causes of human cancer are the carcinogens found in tobacco smoke, which include benzo (a) pyrene, dimethyl nitrosamine, and nickel compounds.

Smoking has been linked to cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and other places. Smoking is the undeniable cause of 80 to 90% of lung cancers. An astounding toll for a single carcinogenic agent, it is estimated that smoking causes close to one-third of all cancer deaths overall. Instead of causing mutations, other carcinogens promote cell proliferation, which aids in the development of cancer. Since the enhanced cell division that these substances cause is necessary for the expansion of a proliferative cell population during the initial stages of tumor development, they are known as tumor promoters. Classic examples include phorbol esters, which promote cell proliferation by activating protein kinase C.

Studies on the chemical stimulation of skin cancers in mice helped to identify their activities. A single exposure to a mutagenic carcinogen can start tumorigenesis in this system. However, tumors do not form until the mice are then given a tumor promoter to encourage the growth of the altered cells (often a phorbol ester). When it comes to the development of some human cancers, hormones, especially estrogens, play a crucial role as tumor promoters. For instance, estrogen stimulates the uterine endometrium's cells to proliferate, and excessive estrogen exposure greatly raises a woman's risk of developing endometrial cancer. Therefore, long-term postmenopausal estrogen replacement therapy with high dosages of estrogen alone significantly raises the risk of endometrial cancer. Thankfully, progesterone therapy reduces this danger by preventing estrogen's stimulatory influence on endometrial cell proliferation. However, prolonged treatment with estrogen and progesterone mixtures may raise the risk of breast cancer. Some viruses can cause cancer in both humans and laboratory animals, in addition to chemicals and radiation. Liver cancer and cervical carcinoma, which together account for 10% to 20% of cancer incidence globally, are two prevalent human diseases brought on by viruses. These viruses are significant not only for their role in the development of human cancer, but also for the understanding of the molecular processes underlying the onset of malignancies brought on by both viral and non-viral carcinogens, as will be covered later in this chapter.

Cancer cell characteristics

Cancer cells to develop uncontrollably. This link can be seen in a number of cellular behaviors that set cancer cells apart from their healthy counterparts. Typically, the processes that control healthy cell proliferation, differentiation, and survival show anomalies in cancer cells. These distinctive traits of cancer cells, when combined, give a definition of malignancy at the cellular level. The activity of cancer cells in cell culture mimics the uncontrolled multiplication of cancer cells in vivo. Normal cells exhibit density-dependent suppression of cell growth, which is a key difference between cancer cells and normal cells in culture. Normal cells multiply until they reach a finite cell density, which is influenced by the presence of growth factors supplied to the culture media, among other things (usually in the form of serum). They then stop reproducing and go into quiescence while being halted at the cell cycle's G0 stage. However, most cancer cells are resistant to density-dependent suppression of cell proliferation. Tumor cells typically keep growing to high cell densities in culture, simulating their unchecked proliferation in vivo, rather than responding to the signals that tell normal cells to stop proliferating and enter G0.

Many cancer cells require less extracellular growth factor than normal cells, which is another difference between the two types of cells. Polypeptide growth factors regulate most cell proliferation, at least in part. The main element affecting various cell types' ability to proliferate in culture is the availability of serum growth factors, notably for fibroblasts. Since the density at which normal fibroblasts become inactive is inversely correlated with the concentration of serum growth factors in the culture media, the growth factor requirements of these cells are strongly tied to the phenomena of density-dependent inhibition. Many tumor cells have lower growth factor needs than their normal counterparts, which promotes the uncontrolled growth of tumor cells both in vitro and in vivo. Cancer cells can occasionally release growth factors that encourage their own proliferation. The cancer cells become less reliant on growth factors from other, physiologically normal sources as a result of this abnormal creation of a growth factor by a responsive cell, which results in continual auto stimulation of cell division (autocrine growth stimulation).

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