Marine contagious metastases
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What is it a contagious cancer?
Cancer occurs when a single cell in the body acquires genetic changes that drive inappropriate cell proliferation. Once initiated, cancer evolves by natural selection, often producing cell lineages that spread through the host by a process called metastasis (Murchison EP, 2016). However, cancer does not normally spread beyond the host’s body.
A contagious cancer or clonal transmissible cancer is spread directly by the transfer of cells between individuals.
Are they caused by a virus or pathogen?
No. Some tumors are induced by infectious agents such as viruses, and though these agents can be contagious, each tumor still arises in the infected individual by transformation of somatic cells (Metzger MJ, 2015). In contagious cancer cases, a tumor cell itself naturally spreads among individuals as a transmissible cell line.
What cases have been reported in nature?
Contagious cancers are known to occur in dogs (CTVT), Tasmanian devils (DFTD), and several marine bivalves (BTN).
Want to know more?
- TED talk: Fighting a contagious cancer (Tasmanian devil)
- Video: 11,000-year-old living dog cancer reveals its secrets (dogs)
- Video: Genetic causes of contagious metastases buried in the sandbed (bivalves - cockles). (Spanish audio, English/French subtitles)