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Tumor Heterogeneity

Every cell of any particular cancer originated from the same "mother" cell. One cell turns into two cells, two cells to four, and so on. By the time a one–centimeter cancer is detected, the millions of cells that make up the lump have become distant relatives, as different from each other as you may be from your third cousin twice removed. Such cancer cell diversity–represented by the red stars, blue circles, and green triangles in this illustration–is called "tumor heterogeneity." Because what kills one kind of cell might pass over another, we need treatments in combination or in sequence, working in different ways, that TOGETHER may eliminate all of the cancer.

Tumor heterogeneity is especially important for chemotherapy.


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