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Medical Self learning about cancer

  1. Oct 10, 2017 #1
    I come from totally engineering background but I'm passionate learner in my free time! I would like to start learning from the fundamentals about cancer and see if I can get some insights using my (engineering) background, as I'm progressing more and more in my learning career. Just give me your opinions and a real scientific roadmap I must follow, no matter how big it is (or how much it will take!), in order to understand cancer on some very serious level. It could be in form of a books (preferably), videos, forums, MOOCs, YouTube channels, scientific papers and all other resources you think are relevant, as long as it is serious as learning maths.

    Please put all that in, what you think is, a right order (from your experience), starting from very foundations.

    Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 10, 2017 #2


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    There are various good popular science books on cancer, such as Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

    For a more thorough understanding, you'll need to learn at minimum the basics of cell biology. For this I would recommend a textbook like Molecular Biology of the Cell by Alberts et al.

    Once you have a good understanding of basic cell biology, a good entry point into cancer biology are these two review articles on the "Hallmarks of Cancer":
  4. Oct 10, 2017 #3
    Thank you! Any prerequisites for cell biology?
  5. Oct 10, 2017 #4
  6. Oct 10, 2017 #5


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    You should probably be able to follow a textbook like Alberts without too much specialized knowledge. The type general chemistry and general biology courses that any science/engineering major would take in their first year of college are what would be necessary. If you are interested in understanding the biochemistry more deeply, a knowledge of organic chemistry would be helpful.
  7. Oct 10, 2017 #6
    Oh, I haven't took any of that :S Would you mind sharing some good books about general and organic chemistry, biology? No prerequisites before that? Do you have any tips for learning all off this stuff?
  8. Oct 10, 2017 #7


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    Not sure about good textbooks for these subjects. You could try taking a look at syllabuses for 1st year biology and chemistry courses at universities.
  9. Oct 25, 2017 #8
    I can suggest the following references for an excellent build up of a strong base of knowledge on cancer.

    1. Molecular Biology of the Cell - 6th Edition - Alberts et. al. by Garland Science.
    You don't need any previous prep in biology or organic chemistry to understand this at all. I would rate it as number 1.

    2. Cancer Biology 101. University of California TV. This is a fantastic introduction to cancer. The best I have seen. Just search on Youtube for Cancer Biology 101 and you will see it.

    3. iBiology Education - you will find plenty of superb cancer related lectures here on Youtube. Just search for iBiology Education. I would rate this as the top of all educational videos. I put the channel link for you there, and so you will have to search for "cancer" within the channel.


    4. Introduction to the Cellular and Molecular Biology of Caner by Margaret Knowles and Peter Selby (by Oxford Bioscience)
    This is an excellent book on cancer: This would be the next stop, as it contains a lot of detailed research findings and it is more at an advanced level.

    5. Primer of the Molecular Biology of Cancer by DeVita Jr, Lawrence, and Rosenberg. This is the most advanced reference once you have learned the basics from the above 4 references.

    I hope this helps and please let me know if I can be of further help.
  10. Oct 25, 2017 #9


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    But there are so many different types of cancer. My fiancee's father was treated for the wrong type of lung cancer in Italy, and most likely led to his early demise.
  11. Oct 25, 2017 #10
    Sorry for your loss, and thank you for this valuable comment. Yes, indeed, you are right. There is no such thing as a single "cancer" disease, there are dozens of different types of cancer. The diagnostic and treatment approach for one type will not necessarily work for all other types.

    However, there is a common thread of characteristics that one can identify among all cancer in general: and that is the uncontrolled growth of cells, without any inhibition, resulting in them "piling up" on top of each other to form a "lump" or a tumor.

    So, while the underlying causes, symptoms, histologies differ, there is still a lot in common and that is why they are all grouped together under the large category syndrome we call cancer. There is no "one shot" approach to cure all cancer.

    However, I believe that with more advances in molecular biology and more in-depth understanding of the human genome, we should be able to discover more commonality and we will be able to develop a broader approach to the control of this insidious syndrome.
  12. Oct 26, 2017 #11
    many thanks my friend for the recommendations!
  13. Oct 26, 2017 #12
    You are welcome, I hope it helps. Actually, I posted the Cancer 101 on the PF videos to make it handy.
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