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KS3/4 Science - Cancer and the Genome: The Issue

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Summary

Sarah Walsh is a young woman living with melanoma, the third most common cancer in the 15 to 39 age group. Studies show that one of the biggest risk factors for melanoma, a type of skin cancer, is over-exposure to UV, either from the sun or tanning beds.

But what is cancer and why does it happen? Dr. Andy Futreal, co-founder of the Cancer Genome Project at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, explains that cancer occurs when cells start to behave in inappropriate ways. The route cause of all cancers is mutations in DNA, causing changes in cell behaviour.

Researchers now know the underlying mechanism of melanoma in 70 per cent of cases and there is hope that a new drug will be able to stop the cancer in its tracks.

But any new treatment will probably come too late for Sarah. A recent hospital scan reveals the presence of secondary tumours and her outlook is not good.

Published : Oct 2005

15 mins

Roles

Secondary Pupil

Subjects

Secondary Science

Biology

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