How do cancer cells survive?

11 December 2012


How does cancer evade the body? How does this escape the clutches of say, the immune system getting rid of cancerous cells? If genetics allow cells to replicate uncontrollably, why hasn’t genetics evolve to boot the cancer out?”


Mark D. - The truth is that the process of cancer is actually a very rare event. Many of our cells are developing genetic abnormalities all the time and the immune system does a very good job [of clearing them out]. Also some of these genetic events actually are deleterious for the cell itself, so they end up dying of their own mutations. Very, very rarely, you get this perfect storm really where you have a cell that is able to survive and grow uncontrollably and also evade the immune system. And tumour surveillance or the study of cancer immunology is a huge field that is trying to understand this problem.

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