Cellular proliferation represents an important element within a broad spectrum of physiological processes responsible for the assurance of normal development and maintenance, including fertilization and early development, population growth, and normal tissue maintenance and repair. Therefore, a vast number of mechanisms have evolved to ensure the regulation and proper progression of the proliferation process. Although corruption of normal cellular proliferation is minimized with the existence of these checkpoints and safeguards functioning to ensure the prevention, identification, and rectification of abnormal progression through the phases of cellular division, unmitigated proliferation can be provoked by instances of spontaneous genomic mutations, or those mutations resulting from a physical or chemical mutagen. Unrestrained cell proliferation that defies the normal constraints of cellular division is the defining feature of cancer, which results from a culmination of mutations causing, among other attributes, decreased density-dependent growth inhibition, anchorage-independence, telomerase production, decreased dependence on external growth factors, inhibition of cell cycle control mechanisms, the inhibition of controlled apoptosis of damaged cells, and an excessive accumulation chromosomal abnormalities. Although unrestricted proliferation is a defining feature of cancerous cells, it is not this defiance of normal cell cycle regulation, but rather the ability to evade immune responses and the possibility for those cells to spread invasively, that introduce the potential for malignancy. Modern cancer research focuses on the comprehension of those pathways responsible for both normal and abnormal cellular proliferation, the significance of cell cycle regulators within these pathways, those mutations contributing to the evasion these constraints, those genomic errors and mutagens responsible for such mutations, and the pathways for the development and metastasis of cancerous cells, among numerous other aspects, for advancements in developing innovative methods of prevention and treatment.
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