This experience is optimized for Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

Please upgrade your browser

Send the Gift of Lifelong Learning!

What Science Knows about Cancer

What Science Knows about Cancer

Professor David Sadava Ph.D.
City of Hope Medical Center, Claremont Colleges

Gifting Information

FAQ
FAQ

To send your gift, please complete the form below. An email will be sent immediately to notify the recipient of your gift and provide them with instructions to redeem it.

  • 500 characters remaining.

Frequently Asked Questions

With an eGift, you can instantly send a Great Course to a friend or loved one via email. It's simple:
1. Find the course you would like to eGift.
2. Under "Choose a Format", click on Video Download or Audio Download.
3. Click 'Send e-Gift'
4. Fill out the details on the next page. You will need to the email address of your friend or family member.
5. Proceed with the checkout process as usual.
Q: Why do I need to specify the email of the recipient?
A: We will send that person an email to notify them of your gift. If they are already a customer, they will be able to add the gift to their My Digital Library and mobile apps. If they are not yet a customer, we will help them set up a new account so they can enjoy their course in their My Digital Library or via our free mobile apps.
Q: How will my friend or family member know they have a gift?
A: They will receive an email from The Great Courses notifying them of your eGift. The email will direct them to TheGreatCourses.com. If they are already a customer, they will be able to add the gift to their My Digital Library and mobile apps. If they are not yet a customer, we will help them set up a new account so they can enjoy their course in their My Digital Library or via our free mobile apps.
Q: What if my friend or family member does not receive the email?
A: If the email notification is missing, first check your Spam folder. Depending on your email provider, it may have mistakenly been flagged as spam. If it is not found, please email customer service at (customerservice@thegreatcourses.com) or call 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: How will I know they have received my eGift?
A: When the recipient clicks on their email and redeems their eGift, you will automatically receive an email notification.
Q: What if I do not receive the notification that the eGift has been redeemed?
A: If the email notification is missing, first check your Spam folder. Depending on your email provider, it may have mistakenly been flagged as spam. If it is not found, please email customer service at (customerservice@thegreatcourses.com) or call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: I don't want to send downloads. How do I gift DVDs or CDs?
A: eGifting only covers digital products. To purchase a DVD or CD version of a course and mail it to a friend, please call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: Oops! The recipient already owns the course I gifted. What now?
A: Great minds think alike! We can exchange the eGifted course for another course of equal value. Please call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: Can I update or change my email address?
A: Yes, you can. Go to My Account to change your email address.
Q: Can I select a date in the future to send my eGift?
A: Sorry, this feature is not available yet. We are working on adding it in the future.
Q: What if the email associated with eGift is not for my regular Great Course account?
A: Please please email customer service at (customerservice@thegreatcourses.com) or call our customer service team at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance. They have the ability to update the email address so you can put in your correct account.
Q: When purchasing a gift for someone, why do I have to create an account?
A: This is done for two reasons. One is so you can track the purchase of the order in your ‘order history’ section as well as being able to let our customer service team track your purchase and the person who received it if the need arises.
Q: Can I return or Exchange a gift after I purchase it?
A: Because the gift is sent immediately, it cannot be returned or exchanged by the person giving the gift. The recipient can exchange the gift for another course of equal or lesser value, or pay the difference on a more expensive item
Video title

Priority Code

Cancel
What Science Knows about Cancer

What Science Knows about Cancer

Professor David Sadava Ph.D.
City of Hope Medical Center, Claremont Colleges
Course No.  1956
Course No.  1956
Share:
Sale
Video or Audio?
While this set works well in both audio and video format, one or more of the courses in this set feature graphics to enhance your learning experience, including illustrations, images of people and event, and on-screen text.
Which Format Should I Choose? Video Download Audio Download DVD CD
Watch or listen immediately with FREE streaming
Available on most courses
Stream using apps on your iPad, iPhone, Android, or Kindle Fire
Available on most courses
Stream to your internet connected PC or laptop
Available on most courses
Download files for offline viewing or listening
Receive DVDs or CDs for your library
Play as many times as you want
All formats include Free Streaming
All formats include Free Streaming

Course Overview

About This Course

24 lectures  |  31 minutes per lecture

Few global challenges touch humanity with as much immediacy or ubiquity as cancer. Over the course of their lifetime, one in three people in North America, Europe, and Australia will develop a malignancy, and in the United States alone, the direct and indirect costs of cancer amount to billions of dollars a year. The sad truth is that almost every family in the Western world will be affected by cancer at some point in their lives.

The good news is that the landscape of cancer treatment and prevention is a vastly different place than it was even a decade ago. Thanks to a relatively new focus on molecular medicine, scientists have been on a highly encouraging trajectory of discovery. And with each passing day, researchers are gaining a deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved, poising them on the brink of tremendous breakthroughs.

View More

Few global challenges touch humanity with as much immediacy or ubiquity as cancer. Over the course of their lifetime, one in three people in North America, Europe, and Australia will develop a malignancy, and in the United States alone, the direct and indirect costs of cancer amount to billions of dollars a year. The sad truth is that almost every family in the Western world will be affected by cancer at some point in their lives.

The good news is that the landscape of cancer treatment and prevention is a vastly different place than it was even a decade ago. Thanks to a relatively new focus on molecular medicine, scientists have been on a highly encouraging trajectory of discovery. And with each passing day, researchers are gaining a deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved, poising them on the brink of tremendous breakthroughs.

With the wealth of findings in this field, it is not surprising to read contradictory reports about causes and treatments. It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction, but if we arm ourselves with a scientific understanding of cancer, we'll not only have the tools to evaluate emerging news, we'll be in a much better position to prevent and grapple with the disease.

What Science Knows about Cancer reports from the front lines of the war on cancer with a clear and scientifically precise—yet thoroughly accessible—guide to how the disease develops, thrives, and can potentially be conquered. Taught by David Sadava, a laboratory researcher at the City of Hope Medical Center and an award-winning professor of biology at The Claremont Colleges, this fascinating 24-lecture course leaves no stone unturned in explaining the amazing ways cancer works to subvert the body's normal functioning, and how therapies can reverse these insidious processes.

Using a highly visual, step-by-step approach that takes you deep inside the cancer cell, Professor Sadava answers your questions about cancer and debunks myths with a level of specificity, scientific rigor, and candor that is rare to find.

With his expert guidance, you'll explore

  • why cancer rates have risen over the last century;
  • what agents and conditions cause cancer, from tobacco and radiation to diet and female reproductive status;
  • how DNA changes underlie the development of cancer;
  • the specific genes involved in making cells progress, divide, and spread;
  • the methods physicians employ when battling cancer; and
  • how behavior modification, drugs, vaccines, and compounds found in natural substances may help prevent cancer.
Cancer from a Scientist's Perspective

Professor Sadava presents cancer at the macro and microscopic levels as he lays bare the crisis it creates for both humanity and the human body. You'll venture inside cells to learn the conditions that lead them to become specialized or cancerous, and how the mechanisms that facilitate tumor growth are analogous to the gas pedal and brakes in your car.

Methodically organized and delivered, What Science Knows about Cancer uses a six-part framework to investigate the multistage model of cancer.

  • Part one begins with an overview of the challenge cancer presents for society and an examination of the history of cancer dating back over 3,000 years.
  • Part two delves into how scientists use epidemiology to identify environmental agents of cancer, and introduces how spontaneous changes in the expression and duplication of DNA can go awry.
  • Part three looks at tumors—from how they grow and metastasize to how they're diagnosed, staged, and graded by physicians.
  • Part four reveals recent discoveries about genes and inherited cancers, cancer-causing viruses, and the molecular biology of cancer.
  • Part five describes how the three major methods of treatment—surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy—have evolved over time and are frequently used in combination.
  • Part six offers a frank analysis of the state of cancer screening and prevention.

While you'll touch on specific forms of the disease, these lectures aren't designed to examine the prognosis or therapies of individual cancers. Rather, they empower you to understand how the disease operates and how, through advances in science, it might be stopped.

A Wealth of Eye-Opening Discoveries

This course will captivate you with descriptions of new targeted therapies coming from the realm of molecular medicine, such as drugs that attack DNA and other cell processes, and vaccines that harness a patient's own white blood cells, prompting the immune system to reject a tumor. And you'll be filled with a sense of optimism as you're introduced to treatments in the early stages of development, such as tumor-specific viruses that destroy tumor cells while leaving normal cells unharmed.

Here's a glimpse of some of the other surprising information you'll encounter:

  • About 10% of cancer is initiated by viruses, and a roughly similar percentage of cancer is inherited.
  • Things many people assume causes cancer—such as pollutants and food additives—may not be as significant as natural substances in foods and normal reproductive processes.
  • Public policies such as home radon testing may be based on false assumptions about the risks for cancer.
  • Tumors can recruit their own blood supply through the process of angiogenesis.
  • Some cancer occurs spontaneously, simply because of imperfections in our chemistry.
Prevention as the Best Medicine

In addition to highlighting carcinogens to avoid, What Science Knows about Cancer outlines the natural agents that leading researchers—Professor Sadava included—are investigating for their anti-cancer properties.

You'll consider thought-provoking information on the benefits and efficacy of various types of cancer screening, including genetic testing for the "breast cancer gene" (BRCA1), as well as breast self-exams, cervical screenings, colonoscopies, mammograms, and PSA screenings for prostate cancer. Along the way, you'll consider ethical and legal questions regarding the costs associated with these tests, their rates of false positives, what should be done with the information, and whether their routine use has a significant impact on rates of survival.

As a lab researcher at the forefront of this fight who works at the City of Hope Medical Center—and who also taught one of the first comprehensive courses on cancer to undergraduates—Professor Sadava is uniquely qualified to offer a straightforward explanation steeped in the latest science. Although he is presenting high-level findings, he never overwhelms with a barrage of data. Rather, he offers a nuanced interpretation that places research within its broader context—as only a scientist of his caliber is capable of doing.

An abundance of edifying charts, slides, and animations provide a rich visual reference for the information presented, while in-depth accounts of patient histories, clinical trials, and epidemiologic studies enrich your experience and aid comprehension.

Cancer isn't necessarily something any of us likes to think about, but knowledge truly is power. Forever change the way you view and cope with this all-too-common challenge with What Science Knows about Cancer.

Disclaimer:
These lectures are not designed for use as medical references to diagnose, treat, or prevent medical illnesses or trauma. Neither The Great Courses nor Professor Sadava is responsible for your use of this educational material or its consequences. If you have questions about the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a medical condition or illness, consult a qualified physician.

View Less
24 Lectures
  • 1
    Cancer Is an Ongoing Challenge
    Kick off the course with an overview of what you’ll learn and the history of cancer. Discover what has transpired in the war on cancer, from the earliest theories and treatments to medicine’s relatively recent transition from a focus on dividing cells to targeted therapy based on molecular biology. x
  • 2
    Cancer Is a Major Burden to Society
    As you investigate why cancer is a growing problem in the United States and across the globe, explore the burden cancer places on society as a whole—both to people and the economy—and look at some of the most common forms of the disease. See why, surprisingly, cancer doesn’t rank on the Global Burden of Disease Study. x
  • 3
    Discovering Causes of Cancer in Populations
    What do population studies tell us about the causes of cancer? Define the science of epidemiology and learn how it can be used to study cancer in both populations and individuals. Differentiate between case-control and cohort studies, and the categories of risk factors for cancer. x
  • 4
    Some Causes of Cancer in Populations
    Continue exploring epidemiology by delving into environmental causes of cancer that have emerged from studies, including tobacco, diet, a woman’s reproductive status, medications, pesticides, radiation, and even your personality. How does giving birth later in life make you more vulnerable to breast cancer? Is the average person’s exposure to pesticides really dangerous? Find out here. x
  • 5
    DNA Is the Key to Understanding Cancer
    Take the first steps in understanding the multistage model of cancer by learning how various agents initiate cancer at the genetic level. Explore the fundamentals of DNA as genetic material, the process by which DNA is expressed and duplicated, and the ways this process of duplication can go awry, causing cell mutations to accumulate. x
  • 6
    How Does DNA Change to Initiate Cancer?
    Two types of carcinogens mutate DNA: chemicals and radiation. Build on what you’ve learned about DNA by looking specifically at how these carcinogens produce cancer at the cellular level. Then, examine carcinogens that don’t damage DNA and how epigenetic changes in DNA can result in cancer. x
  • 7
    How Do We Know If Something Causes Cancer?
    Does hair dye cause cancer? What about saccharin? Familiarize yourself with the types of experiments scientists conduct to determine if something causes cancer, and consider whether a range of natural and manmade substances with carcinogenic properties have the potential to cause cancer in humans. Conclude this lecture by looking closely at the concept of risk analysis. x
  • 8
    How Do Normal Cells Function?
    Focus on cells as the basic structures of living things through an exploration of their internal composition, particularly the nucleus where the genome is retained. See how this discovery was proven in the cloning of Dolly the sheep and consider how this is relevant to cancer treatment. x
  • 9
    What Is Different about Cancer Cells?
    How do tumors start? Find out how cells divide without normal controls in place and the nine unusual properties shared by many cancerous cells—including the ability to recruit a blood supply. Then learn about the process of apoptosis, or programmed cell death, and the molecules being developed to block telomerase, a protein that lets cancer cells escape dying. x
  • 10
    How Do Tumors Grow?
    What is the difference between benign and malignant tumors? What signs of cancer do people typically experience? Turn to tumor development and growth with a discussion of the methods doctors use to diagnose, stage, and grade tumors—all of which inform how aggressive treatment should be—and an introduction to the distressing processes of metastasis and angiogenesis. x
  • 11
    How Tumors Spread and Thrive
    The body does everything it can to reject a tumor, but sometimes the immune system is not only too overburdened to succeed, it’s unable to even recognize that tumors exist. Find out why tumors can go undetected as you continue your investigation of metastasis and angiogenesis, and how these phenomena contribute to the growth and spread of tumors. x
  • 12
    What Are Tumor Viruses?
    Most of us will be infected with—and recover from—Epstein-Barr virus at some point in our lives. In some people, this infection contributes to the development of cancer. Understand what viruses are, how tumor viruses can be identified, and the way viruses such as Epstein-Barr, hepatitis B, and papilloma cause cancer if other conditions are present. x
  • 13
    How Do Tumor Viruses Cause Cancer?
    Learn about molecular biology and how gene expression is controlled before turning to an investigation of the way tumor viruses use these gene control mechanisms to initiate cell division, and, ultimately, cancer. Wrap up by looking at how cancer develops in 90% of cases—from normal cells that aren't infected by viruses. x
  • 14
    How Do Cancer-Causing Genes Work?
    In almost all cancer, genes that stimulate cell division called oncogenes are mutated. But can one such mutation cause cancer on its own? Examine an experiment that answers this question, then look closely at proto-oncogenes and oncogenes to discover how they function and what they do in the cell to turn on cancers, including neuroblastoma tumors in children. x
  • 15
    Can Cancer Be Inherited?
    Why do cancers sometimes run in families? Explore the “two-hit” hypothesis for how cancers are inherited along with the criteria for defining cancer as hereditary with a discussion of several forms—including retinoblastoma, colon cancer, and breast cancer—that are known to be passed on this way. Explore inherited susceptibilities to cancer that make some people more prone to developing this disease. x
  • 16
    How Do Normal Genes Suppress Tumors?
    Now that you understand oncogenes, focus on tumor suppressor genes for a more complete view of cancer. Start by learning how the BRCA1 gene mutation in inherited breast cancer was discovered—and its implications—before turning to strategies for identifying and isolating suppressor genes to be used in therapy. Explore the genes’ functions, from repairing DNA damage to acting as brakes in the cell division cycle. x
  • 17
    How Do Genetic Changes Result in Cancer?
    All tumors are not created equal. Trace how cancer develops as a series of molecular changes, then learn how the worldwide Cancer Genome Project is working toward individualized therapies. Conclude by looking at genetic testing and considering its ethical and legal ramifications. x
  • 18
    Treating Cancer with Surgery
    From research to clinical trials to approval, cancer therapies face a long road before they become viable treatment options. As you turn to the science behind surgical cancer therapy, explore this developmental process. Using breast cancer as an example, learn the scientific principles of surgical therapy and how it has evolved. Weigh the pros and cons of using surgery to diagnose cancer, remove localized tumors, and prevent metastasis. x
  • 19
    Treating Cancer with Radiation
    Continue your investigation of ways to treat cancer by learning how radiation treatments, including proton therapy, brachytherapy, and radiosurgery, are often used to kill cancer cells. Next, explore the use of stem cell transplantation to restore the bone marrow of patients who’ve experienced high doses of radiation or chemotherapy. x
  • 20
    Treating Cancer with Drugs
    Turn to the last of the three methods of treatment with this lecture that traces the origins of chemotherapy to mustard gas attacks in World War II. Learn about the path taken by a drug on its way to a tumor, the combinations of chemotherapy used by oncologists, and how drugs are often derived from plants and other natural sources. x
  • 21
    How Do Drugs Attack Cancer?
    Some cancer drugs go to work on DNA while others target processes inside the cell. Get an introduction to both categories and learn the science behind how widely used drugs such as methotrexate, tamoxifen, and cisplatin operate. Consider the side effects patients commonly experience when undergoing chemotherapy and the reasons cells become resistant to treatment. Then, using kidney cancer as an example, look at how science has led to new treatments with the potential to target specific tumors. x
  • 22
    Frontiers of Cancer Treatment
    Explore avenues of treatment at the frontiers of science, starting with how a patient’s own immune system can be harnessed in cancer therapy. Take an in-depth look at antibodies and gene therapy as options for treatment and consider the amazing potential of viruses that target tumors only and leave normal cells undamaged. x
  • 23
    Can Screening for Cancer Be Useful?
    Why are monthly breast self-examinations no longer recommended in some countries? Do PSA screenings for prostate cancer have any impact on survival rates for men with the disease? Examine the science of screening and the success rates of current screening methods for cancers of the breast, cervix, colon, and prostate, and consider whether getting screened is worthwhile given the risks and costs associated with each. x
  • 24
    Can Cancer Be Prevented?
    Conclude the course with a discussion of prevention, from carcinogens to avoid to substances that studies indicate could offer chemoprevention in a wide variety of cancers. Learn why identifying carcinogens and preventive agents is so challenging for researchers, and look toward the promising future of treatment and prevention. x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

Your professor

David Sadava
Ph.D. David Sadava
City of Hope Medical Center, Claremont Colleges

Dr. David Sadava is Adjunct Professor of Cancer Cell Biology at the City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, CA, and the Pritzker Family Foundation Professor of Biology, Emeritus, at The Claremont Colleges. Professor Sadava graduated from Carleton University as the science medalist with a B.S. with first-class honors in biology and chemistry. A Woodrow Wilson Fellow, he earned a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California, San Diego. Following postdoctoral research at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, he joined the faculty at Claremont, where he twice won the Huntoon Award for Superior Teaching and received numerous other faculty honors. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Colorado and at the California Institute of Technology. Professor Sadava has held numerous research grants and written more than 55 peer-reviewed scientific research papers, many with his undergraduate students as coauthors. His research concerns resistance to chemotherapy in human lung cancer, with a view to developing new, plant-based medicines to treat this disease. He is the author or coauthor of five books, including the recently published 10th edition of a leading biology textbook, Life: The Science of Biology, as well as a new biology textbook, Principles of Life.

View More information About This Professor
Also By This Professor
View All Courses By This Professor

Reviews

Rated 4.5 out of 5 by 22 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by What Science Knows about cancer I was just diagnosed with stage 1 esophageal cancer in April. After the initial shock wore off, I had many questions, but the reading material was so complex that I really did not find any answers. I found Dr Sadava's course extremely helpful! I have learned so much in just the first lessons. He gives information in a way that you do not need a medical degree to understand. He includes a lot of graphs that are easy to read and enhance the subject even more. If you have cancer, have a loved one with cancer or just enjoy science courses, I highly recommend this course! May 9, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by What Science knows About Cancer This course was well worth the time. Every lecture was packed with information - sometimes even a little bit too much. I felt the course so informative that I purchased an additional copy of it and mailed it to a friend in Kansas City who works for the V.A. December 15, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Great information This course is a bit hard to digest in its entirety, especially for a novice, because of the terminology and what constitutes molecular interactions, but it is presented very well by Prof. Sadava with great illustrations (diagrams, charts, animations). Nevertheless, if one can "hang in there," the information is absolutely eye-opening and, best of all, quite up-to-date. It seems there is still a long way to go to making all this insight help with treating cancers, but it does show that there has been enormous progress in the last few years with much more likely in the near future. December 14, 2014
Rated 2 out of 5 by I bought this course because of my interest in and pursuit of an education in physiology. I watched several of the lectures before I gave up on it. I will be exchanging this course for one of more interest to me. The professor, while obviously knowledgeable, tended to be wordy and difficult to follow. Even though I am interested in cancer and what we know about it, this course did not hold my interest. I do want to say that I have enjoyed lectures from other professors very much and I was surprised at my disappointment in this course. November 19, 2014
2 next>>

Questions & Answers

Customers Who Bought This Course Also Bought

Some courses include Free digital streaming.

Enjoy instantly on your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.