How does cancer develop?

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How does cancer develop?

QuestionsCategory: cancerHow does cancer develop?
Kaarthika asked 7 months ago
How does cancer develop?

1 Answers
Dr. Bommu Venkateshwara Reddy Staff answered 6 months ago
Cancer, a complex and multifaceted disease, originates at the cellular level. Our bodies, composed of an astronomical number of cells (over 100 trillion), rely on the precise functioning of each cell. Cancer emerges from alterations in a single cell or a small cluster of cells.  

The Balance of Cell Growth

  The body maintains an optimal balance of cell types in a healthy state. This equilibrium is regulated by cellular signals that dictate the frequency and extent of cell division. Disruptions in these signals can lead to excessive cell growth and multiplication, potentially resulting in a mass known as a tumour.  

The Genesis of Cancer

  • Primary Tumors: These are the initial sites where cancer develops. While most cancers form solid tumours, blood cancers like leukemia originate in blood cells and do not form solid masses. Instead, they accumulate in the bloodstream and sometimes in the bone marrow.

Genetic Alterations and Cancer


The Role of Genes in Cell Function

  Cells, regardless of their type, share common features. Each cell has a nucleus serving as its command center, housing chromosomes composed of thousands of genes. These genes are made of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and are essentially coded instructions that govern cellular behaviour, including:  
  • Cell identity and function
  • Cell division timing
  • Cellular lifespan

Gene Mutations: The Precursors to Cancer

  Genes ensure orderly and controlled cell growth and replication, maintaining health. However, mutations or changes in these genes can occur, especially during cell division. These mutations might result in a gene being damaged, lost, or duplicated excessively.  
  • Chance Mutations: Random mutations can occur during cell division.
  • External Factors: Environmental influences like tobacco smoke chemicals can induce mutations.
  • Inherited Genetic Variations: Some individuals inherit gene mutations that heighten their risk of developing cancer.

The Journey from Mutation to Cancer

  It typically requires multiple mutations (around six) for a normal cell to transform into a cancerous one. These mutations can lead to:  
  • Excessive production of proteins that stimulate cell division
  • Loss of proteins that normally inhibit cell division
  • Creation of abnormal proteins with altered functions
  The progression from a single mutated cell to a detectable tumour can span many years.  

Factors Influencing Mutations

  • Internal Processes: Cellular activities can inadvertently cause mutations.
  • Inherited Predispositions: Some individuals inherit genetic faults that increase their cancer risk.
  • Cellular Repair Mechanisms: Cells are generally adept at repairing gene damage, but over time, accumulated damage may surpass repair capabilities, especially as cells proliferate rapidly and acquire additional mutations.


  On a microscopic scale, cancer grows inside an area of genes and cell structures. By delving into these routes, we may better comprehend the complex mechanism of cancer development and the function that many factors, such as gene susceptibilities and radiation exposure, play. The advancement of efforts in cancer prevention, detection, and therapy depends on having this knowledge.

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