Two review articles published in 2000 and 2011 by Hanahan and Weinberg have dominated the discourse about carcinogenesis among researchers in the recent past. The basic tenets of their arguments favour considering cancer as a cell-based, genetic disease whereby DNA mutations cause uncontrolled cell proliferation. Their explanation of cancer phenotypes is based on the premises adopted by the somatic mutation theory (SMT) and its cell-centered variants. From their perspective, eight broad features have been identified as so-called ‘Hallmarks of Cancer’. Here, we criticize the value of these features based on the numerous intrinsic inconsistencies in the data and in the rationale behind SMT. An alternative interpretation of the same data plus data mostly ignored by Hanahan and Weinberg is proposed, based instead on evolutionarily relevant premises. From such a perspective, cancer is viewed as a tissue-based disease. This alternative, called the tissue organization field theory, incorporates the premise that proliferation and motility are the default state of all cells, and that carcinogenesis is due to alterations on the reciprocal interactions among cells and between cells and their extracellular matrix. In this view, cancer is development gone awry.
Volume 44 | Issue 5
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