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Book and Media Reviews
April 7, 2010

Neoplasms: Principles of Development and Diversity

JAMA. 2010;303(13):1311-1315. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.398

In this book, author Jules Berman targets students, researchers, and medical professionals who have an interest in cancer research and oncology. He adeptly uses his background in pathology to review the principles that account for neoplastic development and diversity that allow cancer within a multicellular organism.

Invasion and metastases arise from a series of genetic and epigenetic alterations. These are described from the activity of oncogenes; the inactivity of suppressor genes; chemicals and radiation found in the environment; and biological agents (viruses, bacteria, parasites). Damaged DNA is passed to succeeding generations of cells. Carcinogenesis can thus be considered a multievent process. Within each species is a genetically unique individual. This individual's reproductive ability from unique parents, if confined to a closed group that shares ancestral features from the ancestral group, may be lost to the previous group. This phenomenon of speciation also applies to neoplasms. It imposes cellular metabolic pathways within a narrow range that produce stereotypical morphological and biological changes. This text devotes considerable effort to the definition of precancer, its distinction from a benign tumor, and the importance of detection and treatment.