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Carcinogenesis, Cancer genetics, Neoplasm, Cell cycle, Apoptosis, Angiogenesis, Genetic counseling



  1. Peters, June MS
  2. Loud, Jennifer MSN, CRNP
  3. Dimond, Eileen MS, RN
  4. Jenkins, Jeanne PhD, RN, FAAN


It is often said that cancer is genetic. What exactly does that mean? This article is our answer to that question at the turn of the millennium. We present models of carcinogenesis, review basic cancer genetics terminology, and explain some of the fundamental genetic changes common to all types of cancer. These are organized into 6 sections of (1) self-sufficiency in growth signals, (2) insensitivity to growth-inhibitory signals, (3) evasion of programmed cell death, (4) limitless replicative potential, (5) sustained angiogenesis, and (6) tissue invasion and metastases. Underlying all of these changes are the even more fundamental enabling factors of genetic instability on both the chromosomal and the gene level. Finally, we look toward the future in a field where the future is now!