Cancer: Clinical Background and Key Challenges

  • Antonio Llombart-Bosch
  • Ulrik Ringborg
  • Sergio Rutella
  • Julio E. Celis


This chapter is aimed at a wide audience ranging from biologists to medical students and cancer specialists. It provides a comprehensive overview of systems approaches to the pathology and treatment of cancer. In particular, it addresses diagnosis and therapy by interconnecting various aspects of cancer at both the molecular and clinical level, and contrasts the unifying features of malignancies with the daunting diversity of cancer types, stages, and evolutionary processes during treatment. The importance is emphasized of both prevention and innovative treatments in reducing the cancer burden, and of early detection as the link between these two major areas. It sets the stage for analysis of cancer by means of systems biology, bioinformatics, and systems medicine. These methods involve the processing of cytological, histological, and imaging data, combined with genetic and expression profiling. The application of systems approaches to cancer-related clinical practice and research is discussed. The necessity is demonstrated for signalling pathways analysis to be fully integrated into grading and clinical staging of cancers, as well as into the process of discovering novel targets and biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis. Key challenges and limitations are outlined for systems approaches to cancer, and areas are indicated where research needs to be focused in the future. Finally, pointers are provided to the paths that must be followed in order to move from a carefully controlled biological investigation, to approaches and technologies that will eventually accelerate the translation of new discoveries into prevention and clinical applications.


Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia Tumour Node Metastasis Small Round Cell Tumour Cellular Blue Nevus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are indebted to Laila Fischer for expert secretarial assistance. This work was supported by the IVO Cancer Institute and the EuroBoNeT consortium, a network of excellence granted by the European Commission for studying the pathology and genetics of bone tumours (to ALLB), the Stockholm Cancer Society (to UR), and the Danish Cancer Society, the Danish Medical Research Council, and the John and Birthe Meyer Foundation (to JEC).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio Llombart-Bosch
    • 1
  • Ulrik Ringborg
    • 2
  • Sergio Rutella
    • 3
  • Julio E. Celis
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PathologySchool of Medicine, University of ValenciaValenciaSpain
  2. 2.Cancer Center KarolinskaStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Department of HaematologyCatholic University and Immuno-Oncology Lab, IRCCS San RaffaeleRomeItaly
  4. 4.Institute of Cancer BiologyDanish Cancer SocietyCopenhagenDenmark

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