A cell becomes cancerous when enough changes turn the cell to uncontrolled growth and cellular division. There is a classical view of cancer in which the disease arises via genetic mutations. These mutations cause changes in genes that can make the protein non-functional or over active that lead to a cancerous state. But there is no set number of mutations that must be registered, but rather the trigger point depends on what genes are affected and in what cell type. Epigenetic changes affect cell behavior and division and it is becoming abundantly clear that cells can become cancerous from epigenetic changes as well. For example, hypermethylation of a gene important for DNA repair could inhibit the protein’s activity. As our understanding of how epigenetic changes induce cancerous changes increases, new drugs, treatment protocols and diagnostic tools are being released to improve care.

Understanding Epigenetics:
Check out these stories for more context on epigenetics and agriculture
Video: How epigenetic changes cause cancer
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