Hallmarks of Cancer: Growing uncontrollably

Robert Weinberg, Ph.D
Whitehead Institute for Biomedic Research

Cancer cells do not respond to signals that usually regulate cell growth and division. These cells grow unchecked, producing more and more cancer cells.

Growth without signals

Cancer Cells

Cancer cells have to learn how to grow in the absence of growth stimulatory signals that normal cells require from their environment.

Growth Despite Anti-Growth Signals

In 2000, Douglas Hanahan (shown below) and Robert Weinberg published a paper in Cell, "The Hallmarks of Cancer," which identified some organizing principles of cancer cell development.

Not only are there positive signals that say grow there are brakes which serve normally to stop such proliferation. And the loss of these growth control signals, these negative growth controls is again a common denominator for many cancers and this is separable in some sense from the growth stimulation, it's very much like putting your foot on the gas pedal, you put your foot on the gas pedal the engine revs up but if you've got your foot on the brake you still may not go anywhere, so these again are conceptually they both relate to the ability of the cell to divide continuously they each have separable capabilitieswhich relate.