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Cancer as a Genetic Disease Summary

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Cancer as a Genetic Disease Summary
Presented by: Charles Sawyers MD

Cancer research has been transformed into a disease-focused examination, which allows medical investigators to find the causes for a specific cancer and treat the cancer in a more targeted way. This transformation into a disease oriented research was made a reality by advances in DNA sequencing technologies, which allow scientists to understand the underlying causes of cancer and develop cancer-specific drugs. These technologies can sequence the DNA of the tumors in cancer patients, and will enable scientists to discover and chart the DNA mutations which lead to cancer. Thus, cancer research has entered a new phase, in which the main question is not what causes cancer, but how this information can be used to treat cancer more efficiently. This establishes the foundation of any research group; that understanding the mechanics behind the process is the only way that solutions can be formulated.
Cancer is a proliferation of cells in our body, the unchecked division of our body cells, which often results in the formation of tumors. This rapid division of cells in our body can result in either a benign or malignant tumor. A benign, or non-invasive, tumor does not infect the entire body, but confines itself to its place of origin. This type of tumor does not generally result in the death of the patient. However, if a tumor infects its surrounding cells, and eventually infects the rest of the body, it is called a malignant tumor. Malignant tumor cells usually infect other areas of the body by traveling through lymph or blood vessels by a process called metastasis. Even though a benign tumor is not technically a cancerous tumor, it is still removed so as to avoid spread of the cells. Thus, metastases of the cancerous cells are what cause the death of the patient. These cancerous cells kill the patient…...

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