Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with pre-cancerous conditions, news that may induce fear and panic in those receiving it.
Cancer is caused by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells, a process triggered by mutations in the cells’ genes. As these cells multiply, they cluster together to form tumors or crowd out healthy cells in the bloodstream.
It’s impossible to know if, when or where in the body cancer will come calling. Cancer risks increase with age, lifestyle choices, environmental exposures and other factors, but the exact causes of many cancers—and why they affect some people but not others–remain a mystery.
When researchers conduct a clinical trial on a new cancer drug, the therapy often doesn’t work for a majority of patients.
Cancer cells survive largely because of their ability to adapt to their surroundings, and that includes fending off an attack from certain cancer treatments. A drug may be able to target one gene mutation in a cancer cell, but another mutation may take over and drive the tumor’s growth.
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