Monday, September 29, 2008

Neoplasms: Classification and Eradication

As I've noted yesterday, my book Neoplasms: principles of development and diversity was published last week.

The full table of contents is available. As indicated yesterday, the book is divided into three parts: tumor speciation, tumor classification, and tumor eradication. By tackling these three major areas, we can start answering long-held questions of tumor biology.

, we discussed tumor speciation. Today we'll continue a discusion of Neoplasms by describing Part 2 (Classification) and Part 3 (Eradication).

After the neoplasms of humans are assigned species, the next step is to divide the species of neoplasms into broad classes. Creating a neoplasm classification is a difficult scientific problem. Lessons learned through the millennia from naturalists such as Aristotle, Discorides, Ray, Linnaeus, Darwin, and Mayr have direct bearing on the classification of neoplasms. Modern classifications serve several purposes

1. To seek universal truths that pertain to all neoplasms

2. To simplify our understanding of an otherwise disconnected list of thousands of neoplasms

3. To serve as a conceptual framework on which hypotheses about the relationships among the different neoplasms, and about the properties of neoplasms in general, can be asked and answered

4. To serve as an information key to which data can be sensibly stored and retrieved

5. To provide a rational basis for developing class-targeted preventions, modifications, and treatments based on biological properties and pathways shared by the members of a class

Distinguishing the many different species of neoplasms and grouping them into a classification is a pointless exercise if it does not lead to a reduction in the number of human deaths caused by cancer. In Part III, we will learn that the agents that cause cancer, the measures we use to prevent cancer, the steps in carcinogenesis, the biological properties of cancers, and the treatment of cancers are all class-dependent. Treatments that may be effective in one class of tumors may not be effective in tumors from other classes. Much more importantly, we can hope that agents that can cure one type of cancer may be effective against all of the other types of cancers that share the same class.

At first glance, cancer cells seem to be characterized by a hopelessly complex set of abnormalities involving every cellular process. If we do not make the intellectual effort to speciate and classify neoplasms, new and effective approaches to eradicating cancer will not be forthcoming. In Part III, we examine a variety of research approaches that can contribute to the eradication of cancer.

In the next few days, I will continue to discuss content from Neoplasms in my blogs.

-Jules Berman

Key words: tumors, tumour, neoplasms, neoplasia, carcinogenesis, tumor development, cancer research, neoplastic development, precancer preneoplasia, preneoplastic

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