Presentation Review: How Cancer Evolves Over Time

LeonardRev. Dr. Leonard M. Hummel
Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care
Gettysburg Seminary
Gettysburg, PA 17325

GayleWoloschakGayle E. Woloschak,
Northwestern University School of Medicine, Chicago IL;
Zygon Center for Religion and Science,
Lutheran School of Theology Chicago, IL;


How Cancer Evolves Over Time
Author(s): William Cross

When, in our previous entry, we referenced the article, “Pancreatic cancer biology and genetics from an evolutionary perspective,”(1) we noted its intent not only to describe cancer as a disease of evolutionary development but also to suggest the therapeutic implications of doing so: “we gather the wide-ranging aspects of pancreatic cancer research into a single concept rooted in Darwinian evolution, with the goal of identifying novel insights and opportunities for study.” In this youtube/Ted talk, “How Cancer Evolves Over Time,” William Cross expresses the related hope that attending to cancer’s development according to evolutionary principles may enable us to “pull the plug” on many cancers.

At the time of the posting, Mr. Cross was a Ph.D. research student under the direction of Trevor Graham. Ph.D., Professor of Cancer Evolution, at the Bart Cancer Institute at the Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London. Through straightforward lecture and powerpoint, Cross first describes evolution itself (“the change in heritable traits that alter fitness”) and then how DNA mutations produce “physical change” in cancer cells that parallel the mutational processes in evolving populations. He next carefully explains how no two cancers are alike—that they are not “homogenous”—and, thereby, are able to secure their place within their larger ecosystem: the individual body in which these somatic cells go awry. Finally, he offers a brief overview of various “ecological therapies” that are attentive to the evolutionary nature of cancers—and offer much hope. This Ted talk is clearly delivered, informative, enjoyable and optimistic!


1. NATURE REVIEWS CANCER VOLUME 16 | SEPTEMBER 2016 | 553 Pancreatic cancer biology and genetics from an evolutionary perspective, Alvin Makohon-Moore and Christine A. Iacobuzio-Donahue. p. 553

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