New textbook explains cancer and how to fight it

26 Aug 2021
New textbook explains cancer and how to fight it

Half of us will face a cancer diagnosis during our lifespan, but the good news is, every second cancer death is preventable.

Indeed, preventive interventions are the most effective way to fight cancer, as Professor Carsten Carlberg and Dr Eunike Velleuer point out in their new textbook, Cancer Biology: How Science Works.

The book provides the reader with a holistic view of cancer, including the mechanisms leading to cancer, cancer surveillance mechanisms of the immune system, different aspects of cancer prevention as well as efficient therapies against cancer.

Cancer is a collection of diseases that have uncontrolled cellular growth in common and can affect basically every organ of our body.

Behind every newly diagnosed malignant tumour in adulthood there is an individual history of probably 20 or more years of tumorigenesis.

The fact that malignant tumour formation often takes time makes cancer in many cases an age-related disease that may even seem inevitable.

However, the authors emphasise that tumorigenesis is dependent on multiple environmental influences. “We can control many pro- and anti-cancer effects of the environment by lifestyle decisions, such as retaining from smoking, selecting healthy food and being physically active.”

Cancer is typically considered as a disease of our genome, since it is primarily caused by the accumulation of sporadic mutations of the DNA in our cells.

  In addition, we all carry inherited variations of our genome that determine our susceptibility to different types of cancer.

However, tumorigenesis also comes along with abnormalities in cellular identity, different responsiveness to internal and external stimuli and major changes in the transcriptome, all of which are based on largely reversible alterations in our epigenome.

Modern technologies, such as whole-genome sequencing, allow us to understand and track these changes with growing precision, enabling increasingly targeted prevention, prognosis and treatment of cancer.

The eleven chapters of the book provide a general overview on cancer, explore the molecular basis and cellular aspects of cancer, and explain the concepts of an efficient therapy against cancer.

In addition to elucidating the present understanding of cancer biology, the book combines basic biology with clinical examples and hands-on care, based on Dr Velleuer’s professional experience.

The content of the book is linked to the lecture course in Cancer Biology, which is part of a series together with courses in Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Molecular Immunology and Nutrigenomics given by Professor Carlberg at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio.

The book also relates to the textbooks Mechanisms of Gene Regulation: How Science Works, Human Epigenetics: How Science Works and Nutrigenomics: How Science Works, also co-authored by Professor Carlberg.

Carsten Carlberg is Professor of Biochemistry at the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Eastern Finland. His work focuses on mechanisms of gene regulation by nuclear hormones, in particular on vitamin D.

At present Prof. Carlberg focuses projects on epigenome-wide effects of vitamin D on the human immune system in the context of cancer.

Eunike Velleuer is a medical doctor specialised in paediatric hemato-oncology. At present, she serves as senior physician at the Children’s Hospital Neuwerk in Mönchengladbach, Germany, as well as a research associate at the University of Düsseldorf.

Her special clinical focus is the cancer predisposition syndrome Fanconi anaemia.

Herein, her research interest is early detection and prevention of oral squamous cell carcinoma and identifying patients with Fanconi anaemia at risk.

Furthermore, she is interested in increasing patient’s resilience and find alternative ways for long-lasting empowerment.

Source: University of Eastern Finland