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7Cancer

The disease that tops the list of the causes of death in present-day Japan is cancer. Cancer is a disease in which originally normal cells acquire a capacity of autonomous growth, thus proliferating by invading adjacent tissues and metastasizing to distant sites. With the development of a variety of diagnostic and treatment methods owing to the advancement in medical sciences, perceptions toward the disease have also changed considerably on the medical front, compared with the times when it was regarded as a completely incurable illness. In the background of such progress lies the elucidation of the signaling mechanism, which plays important roles in the functional maintenance and proliferation of cells, along with further biological understanding of the mechanism of carcinogenesis and of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes pertinent to the mechanism. Besides, cancer itself has been revealed to possess peculiar properties. In addition to the issue of how to overcome cancer, accumulation of such knowledge is posing a new problem of how people should cope with it in the present time.

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