On the 4th of February it was World Cancer Day. Now, it goes without saying that all of us have been affected by cancer in some way, especially with it being one of the leading causes of deaths in the UK, after heart disease. It is a devastating disease, but as we learn more about cancer, we are better equipped to beat it. Cancer research is such an important field and the majority of scientific research being done today ultimately has a link to cancer in some way. Cancer is normally referred to as one disease, but actually that’s an umbrella term for lots of diseases; there are over 200 known types of cancer, all of which are different in some way. This is one of the reasons that cancer is so hard to treat, as it is important to find a treatment specific to the patient and the type of cancer that they have.
For me, the pathogenesis of cancer has always been a topic that I’ve wanted to learn more about. Cancer cells are your own cells, that are able to grow uncontrollably and avoid apoptosis (cell death). They even manage to undergo angiogenesis, which is where they develop their own network of blood vessels to effectively provide their own blood supply. They are destructive and fascinating all at once. This semester, I am taking the Cancer Cell and Molecular Biology module (module code BS3003). Two weeks in and I’ve become even more intrigued by the disease. Lectures on oncogenes, tumour suppressors and the hallmarks of cancer, amongst others, are giving me the opportunity to learn about the complexity of cancer development and really think about the overall necessity of cancer research. For this module, we have to write an essay on a chosen type of cancer (we are given eight to choose from) and I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m actually looking forward to getting stuck into writing an essay…
I’d highly recommend this module to current biological science students. It seems to be an extremely popular module which is not at all surprising!