March 29, 2017 – Cancer and Evolution


Anchor lead: Why do most cancers arise from random mutations? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Random mutations are the cause of most cancers, a new paper published in Science by Bert Vogelstein and Cristian Tomasetti at Johns Hopkins shows. Tomasetti says these mutations do have a purpose.

Tomasetti: From my point of view its an essential requirement for the system. Evolution works because there are mutations. :08

Vogelstein explores the idea further.

Vogelstein: The idea that most of the mutations that are responsible for cancer occur randomly is unsettling. Everyone would like to believe we’re in control. Even Einstein had difficulty with this concept, that some aspects of life are totally random. Cellular mistakes are the engines of evolution. Thought about in that way cancer, to a large extent, is really a side effect of evolution. :27

Both agree that the findings point to early detection as the likely most effective strategy to one day cure cancer.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.