Date Published: February 17, 2004
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Partial Text: Thanks to the tools of molecular biology, our understanding of the 100-plus diseases known collectively as cancer has increased dramatically over the past decades. While each of these cancers exhibits unique characteristics reflecting the particular cell or tissue it springs from, the disease follows a similar arc in nearly all its forms. Cancer is a multistep disease that begins when genetic damage—initiated by a multitude of agents—unleashes a single cell from the normal constraints on cellular proliferation. This single transformed cell generates a colony of similarly abnormal progeny that can take decades to develop into malignancies.