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Cancer’s Boundless Limits Towards Evolution Essay

1066 words - 4 pages

In today’s quickly growing medical field there seems to be no obstacle that science has yet to overcome. In visits to doctors or hospitals, we explain our symptoms and sure enough a few minutes later we walk out with a prescription in hand. Yet recently the battle against cancer has grown more difficult because ways to treat and cure patients has significantly narrowed. Cancer has become the greatest medical mystery due to inconclusive facts about the disease that remain unresolved. Therefore treatments like chemotherapy and radiation are showing less and less results and it is becoming more evident that cancer is being driven by the selective pressure of natural selection. This is why many scientists and researchers have begun to view cancer from an evolutionary and ecological lens broadening prospects that research is furthering and bringing society closer to a cure. The application of evolution and ecology to cancer is already helping us to better understand, predict and control this disease (Merlo 933.) Being able to look at cancer with a different perspective and approach can lead to countless discoveries and a better understanding of mutant cells that hold the ability to replicate and kill very quickly. The studies of cancer biology through evolution and ecology have brought insight from research as well as brought profound implications in understanding why current cancer treatment are failing and how radically new therapies might now arise.
Historically there has been very little attention that focuses on evolutionary biology and the understanding towards controlling neoplasm cell progression. Tumor cells develop constantly by natural selection and many are thought to continue evolving as they reproduce. The main issues with neoplasm’s (tumors) are that they are essentially mosaics of different mutant cells that carry genetic and epigenetic differences. Due to the fact that cancer cells reproduce asexually, when they divide both daughter cells inherit the genetic and epigenetic abnormalities of the parent cell. These malignant cells demonstrate that through their mutations they become stronger and are able to survive at a much greater capability than normal cells can. In a review by Lauren Merlo she continues this conclusion by stating, “…normal cell cycle and apoptotic responses to chromosome breaks could confer such a large fitness advantage, by enabling cells to survive and divide, that the clone might be able to tolerate many deleterious mutations and still have fitness advantage… (Merlo 925.)” Neoplasm cells are not apoptotic, by not going through a normal cell cycle they advance their fitness and divide very quickly with the same mutations.
The advantage that neoplasm cells hold not only demonstrates evolution but they also present the ecological concept of competition. Tumors but specifically mutant cells show the dynamic between their interactions with one another. Mutant cells compete with each another for...

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