- Cancer is a condition caused by the abnormal growth of cells, and is a leading cause of death.
- Cancerous cells contain mutations which allow them to escape the body’s normal checks and grow prolifically.
- Cancer biomarkers are features of the abnormalities in cancer cells. They provide evidence leading to diagnosis, treatment options and prognosis.
See What is cancer?
- Cells divide and replicate themselves in a cycle that involves four phases: mitosis, gap 1, synthesis and gap 2.
- Checkpoints throughout the cell cycle monitor for abnormal cells and signal them to repair or destroy themselves.
- Apoptosis or programmed cell death is an important process related to the cell cycle which removes unneeded cells from the body.
- Tests may be performed to diagnose cancer in a patient with symptoms, or to inform treatment in a person diagnosed with cancer.
- Tests may include medical imaging, biopsies, and laboratory tests of blood and urine.
- Test results can be used to stage cancer, that is, classify its severity according to a recognised system.
- Cancer staging provides information about the extent of growth and spread of cancer tumours.
- The stages of cancer can be split into five stages (numeric or descriptive) or in terms of tumour, lymph nodes and metastasis (TNM staging).
- Tests used to diagnose and stage cancer may also identify biomarkers which can be used to inform treatment methods.
- Cancer treatments can be classified as standard or non-standard depending on whether they are recommended to treat a particular type of cancer.
- Standard of care, also known as best practice, is the treatment that experts believe will be most effective against a particular type of cancer.
- Types of anticancer treatments include chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiotherapy, surgery and biological therapy.
Created: May 26, 2017 - Modified: June 28, 2019