Evasion of Apoptosis: A Hallmark of Cancer

Evasion of apoptosis may be a question of balance

Damage to DNA can render a cell useless, or even harmful to an organism. Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, evolved as a rapid and irreversible process to efficiently eliminate dysfunctional cells.1

A hallmark of cancer is the ability of malignant cells to evade apoptosis.2 Cancer cells exhibit many characteristics that would readily trigger apoptosis in healthy cells—for example, they violate cell cycle checkpoints and can withstand exposure to cytotoxic agents.1 Because of these characteristics, cancer cells tend to survive. Apoptosis can be seen as an important barrier to developing cancer; avoiding apoptosis is integral to tumor development and resistance to therapy.3,4