Understanding tumor development

An important property of cancer cells is their immortality (the ability to divide indefinitely), in opposition to normal cells, which become senescent during their lifespan.

Cancer cells are not dependent on external growth factors to initiate their proliferation, since they are able to produce them on their own (autocrine signaling), resulting in permanent activation of signaling pathways that stimulate cellular proliferation. Another feature common to cancer is the ability to evade apoptosis (programmed cell death), which allows survival of cells with genetic defects and therefore indulges tumor progression.

In order to survive, tumor cells proliferate in an uncontrolled manner engaging a metabolic reprogramming process to invade the surrounding microenvironment. Moreover, tumor cells are able to invade and colonize distant sites from the primary tumor, taking advantage of a dedicated vessel network, architected by a controlled process called angiogenesis.