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Breast Cancer & Estrogen & Oncogenes In recent years, major advances have

In recent years, major advances have occurred in the various fields of cancer research. Researchers have begun to elucidate the cytogenetic mechanisms responsible for neoplastic change. Two major components of the disease, breast cancer, have been found to consist of hormones and hormone receptors. With regard to neoplastic change, these factors have both been linked to oncogenes. The scientific analysis of estrogen levels and their relation to oncogenic function promises to provide new insight into breast cancer pathogenesis.

A. Breast Cancer: Estrogen and Oncogenes

Broadly defined, cancer can be characterized as a disorder of cellular proliferation. Cell growth and cell differentiation are dynamic, highly regulated processes (56:3). The involved physiologic mechanisms result in an enormous diversity of cellular structure and function. Among the higher organisms, this diversity is necessary for normal homeostasis and must be achieved through properly timed cell growth. Cells must respond appropriately to both external and internal signals (37:23). In cancer, cellular controls over growth and differentiation are disrupted. As a response to changes in their genetic material, cells just simply continue to proliferate. In the early stages of a cancerous disease process, neoplastic cells accumulate in excessive numbers at their site of origin (18:16). The simplest model for tumor development involves a single cell which acquires some growthpromoting genetic change. Such a change usually occurs through a multistage process. Carcinogenesis includes the following steps: initiation, promotion, and progression (54:116). Initiation generally involves some type of DNA damage. With the accumulation of further intracellular complications, tumor promotion occurs. Tumor progression is defined as the conversion of a benign tumor to a malignant one. This happens after cells have undergone multiple genetic injuries. Such...

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