Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Universality of Cancer

The Universality of Cancer


Cancer has been characterized as a constellation of hundreds of diseases differing in underlying mutations and depending on cellular environments. Carcinogenesis as a stochastic physical process has been studied for over sixty years, but there is no accepted standard model. We show that the hazard rates of all cancers are characterized by a simple dynamic stochastic process on a half-line, with a universal linear restoring force balancing a universal simple Brownian motion starting from a universal initial distribution. Only a critical radius defining the transition from normal to tumorigenic genomes distinguishes between different cancer types when time is measured in cell–cycle units. Reparametrizing to chronological time units introduces two additional parameters: the onset of cellular senescence with age and the time interval over which this cessation in replication takes place. This universality implies that there may exist a finite separation between normal cells and tumorigenic cells in all tissue types that may be a viable target for both early detection and preventive therapy.