tumour promting angiogenesis

Tumor promoting angiogenesis; this image is 500 pixels across the original is 4,096 pixels across.

IMAGE: This image shows generalised cancer cells forming a tumor (tumour) at upper right (greenish blue cell mass). At lower left, a blood vessel is sprouting new vessels to feed the growing tumour. A few cancer cells are seen floating away. These represent the migrating cancer cells (metastatic cells) that can exit the tumour via the new vessels (blood & lymph) that drain the growing tumour and / or invade locally.

CANCER: Cancer happens when a cell breaks free of normal constraints and starts reproducing out of control. The genetic material of a cancer cell has multiple problems.

ANGIOGENESIS: is the creation of new blood vessels. Cancer cells growing in a clump become increasingly starved of nutrients. To overcome this problem, they release chemicals to promote blood vessel growth towards them. The new vessels penetrate and nourish the growing tumour allowing it to grow beyond its original very small size. The vessels can also carry away cancerous cells allowing them to establish new (metastatic) tumors (tumours). Cancer cells can also travel along the lymph vessels. Various novel therapies are aimed at disrupting this angiogenesis and so reducing tumour growth.

CANCER CELL MORPHOLOGY: Cancer cells tend to be more spherical than normal cells and their surfaces are characterised by ripples and various projections. These projections range from small outpocketings (blebs) to long filamentous filopodia. There may be may be small finger-like projections (microvilli) and flat sheet-like projections that look like sails (lamellopodia). The nuclei tend to be relatively large and somewhat angular.

See our image of generalised cancer cells.

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