Homeostasis in normal tissue is maintained by a highly regulated process of cellular proliferation balanced by cell death. If there is an imbalance, either at the stage of cellular proliferation or at the stage of cell death, then a cancerous state will develop. Oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes have been shown to play an important role in this process, by regulating either cellular proliferation or cell death. Cancer-associated genes can be divided into three categories that reflect these different activities, summarized in Table 22-1.
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