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TTC Video - What Science Knows about Cancer


Few global challenges touch humanity with as much immediacy or ubiquity as cancer.
Over the course of their lifetime, one in three people in North America, Europe, and
Australia will develop a malignancy, and in the United States alone,
the direct and indirect costs of cancer amount to billions of dollars a year. The sad truth
is that almost every family in the Western world will be affected by cancer at some point
in their lives.
The good news is that the landscape of cancer treatment and prevention is a vastly
different place than it was even a decade ago. Thanks to a relatively new focus on
molecular medicine, scientists have been on a highly encouraging trajectory of discovery.
And with each passing day, researchers are gaining a deeper understanding of the
mechanisms involved, poising them on the brink of tremendous breakthroughs.
With the wealth of findings in this field, it is not surprising to read contradictory reports
about causes
and treatments. It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction, but if we arm ourselves
with a scientific understanding of cancer, we'll not only have the tools to evaluate
emerging news, we'll be in a much better position to prevent and grapple with the
What Science Knows about Cancer reports from the front lines of the war on cancer with
a clear
and scientifically preciseyet thoroughly accessibleguide to how the disease develops,
thrives, and can potentially be conquered. Taught by David Sadava, a laboratory
researcher at the City of Hope Medical Center and an award-winning professor of biology
at The Claremont Colleges, this fascinating 24-lecture course leaves no stone unturned in
explaining the amazing ways cancer works to subvert the body's normal functioning,
and how therapies can reverse these insidious processes.
Using a highly visual, step-by-step approach that takes you deep inside the cancer cell,
Professor Sadava answers your questions about cancer and debunks myths with a level
of specificity, scientific rigor, and candor that is rare to find.
With his expert guidance, you'll explore
* why cancer rates have risen over the last century;
* what agents and conditions cause cancer, from tobacco and radiation to diet and
female reproductive status;
* how DNA changes underlie the development of cancer;
* the specific genes involved in making cells progress, divide, and spread;
* the methods physicians employ when battling cancer; and
* how behavior modification, drugs, vaccines, and compounds found in natural
substances may help prevent

Cancer from a Scientist's Perspective
Professor Sadava presents cancer at the macro and microscopic levels as he lays bare
the crisis it creates for both humanity and the human body. You'll venture inside cells to
learn the conditions that lead them to become specialized or cancerous, and how the
mechanisms that facilitate tumor growth are analogous to the gas pedal and brakes in
your car.
Methodically organized and delivered, What Science Knows about Cancer uses a six-part
framework to investigate the multistage model of cancer.
* Part one begins with an overview of the challenge cancer presents for society and an
examination of the history of cancer dating back over 3,000 years.
* Part two delves into how scientists use epidemiology to identify environmental agents
of cancer, and introduces how spontaneous changes in the expression and duplication of
DNA can go awry.
* Part three looks at tumorsfrom how they grow and metastasize to how they're
diagnosed, staged, and graded by physicians.
* Part four reveals recent discoveries about genes and inherited cancers, cancer-causing
viruses, and the molecular biology of cancer.
* Part five describes how the three major methods of treatmentsurgery, radiation, and
chemotherapyhave evolved over time and are frequently used in combination.
* Part six offers a frank analysis of the state of cancer screening and prevention.
While you'll touch on specific forms of the disease, these lectures aren't designed to
examine the prognosis or therapies of individual cancers. Rather, they empower you to
understand how the disease operates and how, through advances in science, it might be
A Wealth of Eye-Opening Discoveries
This course will captivate you with descriptions of new targeted therapies coming from
the realm of molecular medicine, such as drugs that attack DNA and other cell
processes, and vaccines that harness a patient's own white blood cells, prompting the
immune system to reject a tumor. And you'll be filled with a sense of optimism as you're
introduced to treatments in the early stages of development, such as tumor-specific
viruses that destroy tumor cells while leaving normal cells unharmed.
Here's a glimpse of some of the other surprising information you'll encounter:
* About 10% of cancer is initiated by viruses, and a roughly similar percentage of cancer
is inherited.
* Things many people assume causes cancersuch as pollutants and food additives
may not be as significant as natural substances in foods and normal reproductive

* Public policies such as home radon testing may be based on false assumptions about
the risks for cancer.
* Tumors can recruit their own blood supply through the process of angiogenesis.
* Some cancer occurs spontaneously, simply because of imperfections in our chemistry.
Prevention as the Best Medicine
In addition to highlighting carcinogens to avoid, What Science Knows about Cancer
outlines the natural agents that leading researchersProfessor Sadava includedare
investigating for their anti-cancer
You'll consider thought-provoking information on the benefits and efficacy of various
types of cancer screening, including genetic testing for the "breast cancer gene"
(BRCA1), as well as breast self-exams, cervical screenings, colonoscopies, mammograms,
and PSA screenings for prostate cancer. Along the way, you'll consider ethical and legal
questions regarding the costs associated with these tests, their rates of false positives,
what should be done with the information, and whether their routine use has a significant
impact on rates of survival.
As a lab researcher at the forefront of this fight who works at the City of Hope Medical
Centerand who also taught one of the first comprehensive courses on cancer to
undergraduatesProfessor Sadava is uniquely qualified to offer a straightforward
explanation steeped in the latest science.
Although he is presenting high-level findings, he never overwhelms with a barrage of
data. Rather, he offers a nuanced interpretation that places research within its broader
contextas only a scientist of his caliber is capable of doing.
An abundance of edifying charts, slides, and animations provide a rich visual reference
for the information presented, while in-depth accounts of patient histories, clinical trials,
and epidemiologic studies enrich your experience and aid comprehension.
Cancer isn't necessarily something any of us likes to think about, but knowledge truly is
Forever change the way you view and cope with this all-too-common challenge with
What Science Knows about Cancer.
These lectures are not designed for use as medical references to diagnose, treat, or
prevent medical illnesses
or trauma. Neither The Great Courses nor Professor Sadava is responsible for your use of
this educational material or its consequences. If you have questions about the diagnosis,
treatment, or prevention of a medical condition or illness, consult a qualified physician.
1 Cancer Is an Ongoing Challenge

2 Cancer Is a Major Burden to Society

3 Discovering Causes of Cancer in Populations
4 Some Causes of Cancer in Populations
5 DNA Is the Key to Understanding Cancer
6 How Does DNA Change to Initiate Cancer?
7 How Do We Know If Something Causes Cancer?
8 How Do Normal Cells Function?
9 What Is Different about Cancer Cells?
10 How Do Tumors Grow?
11 How Tumors Spread and Thrive
12 What Are Tumor Viruses?
13 How Do Tumor Viruses Cause Cancer?
14 How Do Cancer-Causing Genes Work?
15 Can Cancer Be Inherited?
16 How Do Normal Genes Suppress Tumors?
17 How Do Genetic Changes Result in Cancer?
18 Treating Cancer with Surgery
19 Treating Cancer with Radiation
20 Treating Cancer with Drugs
21 How Do Drugs Attack Cancer?
22 Frontiers of Cancer Treatment
23 Can Screening for Cancer Be Useful?
24 Can Cancer Be Prevented?


Professor David Sadava
Dr. David Sadava is Adjunct Professor of Cancer Cell Biology at the City of Hope Medical
Center in Duarte, CA, and the Pritzker Family Foundation Professor of Biology, Emeritus,
at The Claremont Colleges. Professor Sadava graduated from Carleton University as the
science medalist with a B.S. with first-class honors in biology and chemistry.

A Woodrow Wilson Fellow, he earned a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California,
San Diego.
Following postdoctoral research at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, he joined the
faculty at Claremont, where he twice won the Huntoon Award for Superior Teaching and
received numerous other faculty honors. He has been a visiting professor at the
University of Colorado and at the California Institute of Technology.
Professor Sadava has held numerous research grants and written more than 55 peerreviewed scientific research papers, many with his undergraduate students as coauthors.
His research concerns resistance to chemotherapy in human lung cancer, with a view to
developing new, plant-based medicines to treat this disease.
He is the author or coauthor of five books, including the recently published 10th edition
of a leading biology textbook, Life: The Science of Biology, as well as a new biology
textbook, Principles of Life.