|MadSci Network: Medicine|
This is great question, but a complicated one! Tumors are a group of cells that have lost their normal function in the body and divide uncontrollably. These cells come from a normal cell that has been mutated. There are many different mutations in genes that could lead to cancerous cells and tumor formation. Genes that code for proteins that are required to inhibit cell division (mitosis) and genes that code for protein involved in making sure that mutations do not accumulate in a cell are common sources of cancer. Once a cell has become mutated in these major control mechanisms, it may grow uncontrollably and produce a tumor. Tumors can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumors will grow but not spread to other areas of the body. All tumors are harmful to the body because they are made of cells that are not functioning to help the body any more and they are taking up food and space. Tumors continue to grow, and can also divert blood vessels to feed the tumor with nutrients (simultaneously depleting the surounding tissue of essential nutrients in blood). Space is very important, and as a tumor grows, it can damage surrounding tissue as well. Cancer is a very complicated and fascinating feild. There are many questions in the Mad Scientist Archives that have been answeared that may help you understand how a tumor develps from a single cell, grows and spreads through the body. Good luck! Elena Rodriguez Graduate Student, University of California, Berkeley
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