Cancer is a complex set of diseases that can arise in any cell of the body capable of evading normal regulatory mechanisms. It also typically affects functioning of multiple body systems.
Improvements in understanding of the biology of cancer have resulted in substantial changes in the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer in recent years. To implement appropriately targeted and evidence based interventions at all stages of the cancer journey, Specialist Cancer Nurses (SCNs) require a sound understanding of the biology of cancer and the natural history of this disease.
- Normal cellular growth, proliferation, differentiation and regulatory mechanisms.
- Characteristics of benign and malignant cells.
- Genetic, immunological, and hormonal basis of cancer.
- Processes of invasion and metastases.
- Common classification systems for cancer.
- Common investigations for diagnosing, staging and grading cancer.
Assumed knowledge and related information
Students are expected to understand the fundamentals of:
- human cell structure and function
- cellular components
- the role of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in protein synthesis.
- On completion of this supporting resource, you should be able to:
- Describe the physiological, immunological, hormonal and genetic aspects of cancer.
- Explain the process of carcinogenesis.
- Explain the mechanisms of invasion and metastases.
- Outline the major systems for classifying and staging cancer.
- Outline common clinical and pathological investigations involved in diagnosing, staging and grading cancer.
At times, you will have learning activities to complete. Click on the learning activities button and a list of questions will pop up. The questions will relate to the content you've just read or the video you've just watched.
Resource links are included throughout the resource. These links lead to interesting articles or websites, and are designed to encourage you to explore other available resources.
Cancer Australia. (2017) EdCaN module: The biology of cancer, version 1.2.