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Quiz about Cancer is an Inevitability for the Immortal
Quiz about Cancer is an Inevitability for the Immortal

Cancer is an Inevitability for the Immortal Quiz


We are all familiar with cancer. It is a worldwide health issue that affects one in three people. This quiz attempts to take an overview of the molecular basis of cancer, rather than its macroscopic effects.

A multiple-choice quiz by doublemm. Estimated time: 5 mins.
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Author
doublemm
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
360,001
Updated
Jul 23 22
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
450
Awards
Top 20% Quiz
- -
Question 1 of 10
1. The primary basis of cancer as a disease is the ability of single cells to autonomously and unrestrainedly proliferate to form cell masses. What are these cell masses called? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. Cells that proliferate to form cell masses are known as a hyperplastic and do not constitute cancer in many people's book. For cell masses to be classed as cancerous, they often need to be in inappropriate places, as well as being abnormal in their biology. What term is used to describe these types of cells? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. Terms used to describe different types of cancers can give us important information about their origin. Cancers of epithelial cells (e.g. the skin, lung, stomach and breast) account for the vast majority of cancers and around 80% of cancer-related deaths. What term is used to describe cancer of epithelial cells? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. As mentioned, cells must proliferate unrestrainedly in order to become cancerous. How is such autonomous behaviour avoided in normal tissues? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. Formation of cancer is a multi-step process and requires much more than the ability of cells to proliferate extensively. In otherwise normal tissues, cells which do proliferate inappropriately are detected by cellular mechanisms which induce programmed cell death. What term is used for this programmed cell death? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. In order to create large cell masses, cells must become resistant to programmed cell death. In a huge number of cancers, this is achieved by cells which experience a mutation to a specific gene coding for a specific protein. What name is given to this undeservedly unknown and essential protein? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. Even with hyperproliferation and resistance to death, cells are still unlikely to become cancerous. Each cell has a pre-set number of divisions it can perform since each division shortens stretches of DNA found at the ends of chromosomes known as telomeres. When these telomeres "run out", the cells enter a non-proliferative state known as senescence. Yet more mutations acquired by cancer cells allow them to extend these telomeres and so indefinitely extend the number of cell divisions which can take place. What term is used for this acquired trait? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. As we have seen, mutations can lead to a cell's ability to proliferate autonomously, resist cell death, and avoid senescence. Mutations occur in two important sets of genes. The first are genes which normally prevent cells from becoming cancerous and are called tumour suppressor genes. The second is a set of genes where mutations cause over-activity, allowing them to actively promote cancer. What is this second set of genes called? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. So, mutations can be used to explain the formation of large cell masses, driven by proliferation and resistance to cell death. But these merely result in benign tumours. The real problem with cancer lies in its ability to metastasise. Which of the following most accurately describes metastasis? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. Metastasis requires numerous mutations, thus supporting the classification of cancer as a multi-step process. Which of these is least important in allowing cells to metastasise? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. The primary basis of cancer as a disease is the ability of single cells to autonomously and unrestrainedly proliferate to form cell masses. What are these cell masses called?

Answer: Tumours

The term "tumour" is used to describe a growth of abnormal cells. Unlike the term "cancer", "tumour" can refer to both benign and malignant growths. Though "cancer" is often used in place of "tumour", cancer is medically defined as being malignant. Many scientists reserve the term "cancer" for when cells extravastate from their primary location and spread throughout the body, often leading to death.
2. Cells that proliferate to form cell masses are known as a hyperplastic and do not constitute cancer in many people's book. For cell masses to be classed as cancerous, they often need to be in inappropriate places, as well as being abnormal in their biology. What term is used to describe these types of cells?

Answer: Neoplastic

A range of terms are used to describe cells that behave abnormally. Cells which proliferate more/faster than normal are called hyperplastic. Cells which exist in inappropriate tissues (for example an epithelial cell found in non-epithelial tissue) are called metaplastic. Cells which are cytologically abnormal are called dysplastic. Neoplastic is a term often reserved for abnormal cell masses which constitute a cancer and refers to cells that are both dysplastic and metaplastic.
3. Terms used to describe different types of cancers can give us important information about their origin. Cancers of epithelial cells (e.g. the skin, lung, stomach and breast) account for the vast majority of cancers and around 80% of cancer-related deaths. What term is used to describe cancer of epithelial cells?

Answer: Carcinoma

Epithelia refers to cells that are exposed to the environment, with "environment" here referring to either our surroundings, or lumena within the body such as the ducts in the breast or the cavity in the stomach. Sarcomas are cancers of mesenchymal origin (such as muscle or cartilage). Leukemia is a term for cancer of the blood cells and bone marrow. Glioma is a specific cancer of cells which form part of the brain.
4. As mentioned, cells must proliferate unrestrainedly in order to become cancerous. How is such autonomous behaviour avoided in normal tissues?

Answer: Normal cells depend on signalling from neighbouring cells to proliferate

Cancer can be viewed as being caused by selfish behaviour of cells. In normal circumstances, cells make consensus decisions by communicating with the cells which surround them and the decision to divide or die is made for the good of the tissue. In cancer, cells make their own decisions and drive their own proliferation independently of what is best for the tissue.
5. Formation of cancer is a multi-step process and requires much more than the ability of cells to proliferate extensively. In otherwise normal tissues, cells which do proliferate inappropriately are detected by cellular mechanisms which induce programmed cell death. What term is used for this programmed cell death?

Answer: Apoptosis

Apoptosis may seem like an unfriendly term, since it refers to the death of our cells, but it is one of the major defences against cancer. Hyperproliferative cells are usually prevented from reaching large (tumour-scale) sizes by apoptosis.
6. In order to create large cell masses, cells must become resistant to programmed cell death. In a huge number of cancers, this is achieved by cells which experience a mutation to a specific gene coding for a specific protein. What name is given to this undeservedly unknown and essential protein?

Answer: p53

This question may seem obscure (mainly because it is), but it shouldn't be. p53 is arguably the most important single protein in understanding the molecular biology of cancer. It performs many tasks in the cells (i.e. it is pleiotropic) that are directly involved in promoting death in abnormal cells, therefore preventing cancer. Additionally, p53 is important in halting the cell cycle and inducing cell repair mechanisms. Loss of p53 therefore has the multi-hit effect of making cells resistant to death, removing the breaks on cell proliferation, and allowing cells to continue dividing after acquiring damage. For these reasons, p53 has been described as "the Guardian of the Genome".

The importance of p53 is seen in people who inherit a faulty gene coding for this protein, and who have a high predisposition to developing numerous tumours - this is called Li-Fraumeni syndrome.
7. Even with hyperproliferation and resistance to death, cells are still unlikely to become cancerous. Each cell has a pre-set number of divisions it can perform since each division shortens stretches of DNA found at the ends of chromosomes known as telomeres. When these telomeres "run out", the cells enter a non-proliferative state known as senescence. Yet more mutations acquired by cancer cells allow them to extend these telomeres and so indefinitely extend the number of cell divisions which can take place. What term is used for this acquired trait?

Answer: Cell immortality

Cells may acquire mutations in their genome which results in activation of an otherwise quiescent enzyme known as telomerase. Telomerase extends the ends of chromosomes and so effectively extends the cell lifespan. The normal cell lifespan is set at around 60-70 divisions and is known as the Hayflick limit.
8. As we have seen, mutations can lead to a cell's ability to proliferate autonomously, resist cell death, and avoid senescence. Mutations occur in two important sets of genes. The first are genes which normally prevent cells from becoming cancerous and are called tumour suppressor genes. The second is a set of genes where mutations cause over-activity, allowing them to actively promote cancer. What is this second set of genes called?

Answer: Oncogenes

Cancer is primarily a genetic disease - the majority of its molecular characteristics can be explained by observing mutations to the cell genome. Tumour suppressor genes normally prevent cancer formation, for example by preventing hyperproliferation or preventing cell death. Conversely, oncogenes promote cancer formation by promoting proliferation and preventing cell death.

Their over-activity therefore induces cells to become cancerous.
9. So, mutations can be used to explain the formation of large cell masses, driven by proliferation and resistance to cell death. But these merely result in benign tumours. The real problem with cancer lies in its ability to metastasise. Which of the following most accurately describes metastasis?

Answer: The spread of cancer cells from their primary site of origin to secondary sites in the body

Benign tumours rarely cause death, though it is not unknown. If large enough, benign tumours can press on vital organs, compromising their normal function. Metastasis requires cells to become free from their primary site and travel, often via the blood, to secondary sites.

This invasive spread is characteristic of cancer that has acquired so many mutations so as to become aggressive and seriously reduces the chances of survival.
10. Metastasis requires numerous mutations, thus supporting the classification of cancer as a multi-step process. Which of these is least important in allowing cells to metastasise?

Answer: Stabilisation of the cell genome

Cells that have impaired cell-cell adhesions are more likely to become free from their normal position, and increased motility allows them to move into other parts of the tissue. In order to "clear the path" for these migratory cells, cancer cells often coerce surrounding (otherwise normal) cells to produce proteases which degrade the extracellular matrix.

As well as providing a route for cell migration, degradation of the matrix releases important growth factors for the cancerous cells. Cells may then enter the circulation and travel to numerous sites around the body.
Source: Author doublemm

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor CellarDoor before going online.
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