Systems oncology: A new paradigm in cancer research

Gopala Kovvali
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Carcinogenesis, Adjunct Professor, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, UNTHSC, Fort Worth, TX, USA
DOI: 10.4103/1477-3163.128641


Since the time the word oncology was coined in 1857, the field has expanded exponentially metamorphosing the original connotation and intent of the word (Roman word “oncos” (swelling) in relation to the tumors). The word oncology should, then, literally mean the study of swelling or tumors. In a premolecular or pregenomic era, oncology was confined to diagnosing and treating the solid tumors, which was later expanded to include hematological malignancies, which are now referred to as liquid tumors. The word liquid tumor is a misnomer, in that context, but it is a topic for another discussion on another day. The advent of DNA era has focused on seeking answers to the origin of tumors in the genetics under the genetics paradigm or genetics-only paradigm. The rapidly evolved disciplines of molecular biology, biotechnology and related disciplines have enormously contributed to the understanding of tumors and tumorigenesis. The genetic paradigm has recently been sharing its prime spot with the epigenetic phenomenon that could explain the tumorigenesis and has a promise for reversibility of the process. The most recent and exciting paradigm of tumorigenic process relates to cancer stem cells. Therefore, the concepts and models of tumorigenesis are still evolving and the field seems to be far from fully explored. Read more…