How Cancer Grows and Spreads

  • By Rick Groleau and Lexi Krock
  • Posted 02.27.01
  • NOVA

Cancer is not a single disease but rather more than 100 types of disease. Yet all cancer begins with a genetic mutation within a body cell and advances when the cell's descendants mutate further. The following step thru shows the progression of a malignant tumor, ending with metastasis, the colonization of tumors throughout the body. It focuses on the most common type of cancer, a carcinoma, which can originate in the skin, breast, prostate, and other organs.

Launch Interactive Printable Version

See how a malignant tumor can progress from a single cell to widespread metastasis.


All images © WGBH Educational Foundation

Related Links

  • Angiogenesis Explained

    See how cancerous tumors recruit their own blood supply in order to grow and how this process might be stopped.

  • Profile: Judah Folkman

    Once scorned for his ideas about how cancer grows through angiogenesis, Judah Folkman is now hailed as a visionary.

  • Judah Folkman: Expert Q&A

    Two of Folkman's colleagues at Children's Hospital Boston answer questions about treatments for cancer and eye disease.


You need the Flash Player plug-in to view this content.