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Astrocytoma: a form of brain cancer

The Challenge - spot the difference

We have outlined how cancer is caused by own body’s cells growing out of control. We have also told you that cancer cells contain changes from our normal body cells, including mutations in their genes that promote uncontrolled growth, and an ability to spread throughout the body. If the immune system is to respond against cancer, it needs to be able to detect the difference between cancer cells and normal cells. But how difficult is this challenge?

Your task: Look at the images of the three types of cells and cancerous versions of them in the attached article. Imagine you are an immune cell that has to distinguish between them.

  1. How difficult was it to tell the difference? Would you have been able to correctly identify the cancer cells in each case?

  2. What does this tell you about different cancers?

  3. What does this tell you about the challenge the immune system faces when it tries to respond against cancer?

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This article is from the free online course:

Cancer Immunotherapy: a Step Change in Cancer Treatment

University of Birmingham