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Understanding Cancer Metastasis (Coursera)

Over 500,000 people in the United States and over 8 million people worldwide are dying from cancer every year. As people live longer, the incidence of cancer is rising worldwide, and the disease is expected to strike over 20 million people annually by 2030. Everyone has been, or will be touched by cancer in some way during their lifetime. Thanks to years of dedication and commitment to research we’ve made enormous advances in the prevention and treatment of cancer, But there is still a lot of work to be done. In this course, physicians and scientists at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine explain how cancer spreads or metastasizes.

We’ll describe the major theories of metastasis and then describe the biology behind the steps in metastasis. The course also describes the major organs targeted by metastasis and describes how metastases harm the patient.

Who is this class for: This course should be helpful to anyone who wants to develop a deeper understanding of cancer metastasis. It should be useful to undergraduate students who are interested in exploring the science of cancer and to health care providers, data managers, and educators who need a more thorough understanding of metastatic cancer and how it affects individuals. The course is NOT designed for patients seeking treatment guidance.

Syllabus

WEEK 1

History and Overview of Metastasis

In this first module, we’ll concentrate on the history and overview of metastasis and give you a flavor of how cancer is defined as well as some of the history surrounding how we began to understand metastasis.

Graded: History and Overview of Metastasis

Primary Tumor Growth and Neoangiogenesis

In this module, we’ll focus on uncontrolled cell division, which is a defining property of cancer, as well as mutation and neoangiogenesis and their roles in tumor formation. We’ll also take a look at a primary tumor microenvironment and its component cell types.

Graded: Primary Tumor Growth and Neoangiogenesis

WEEK 2

EMT / Invasion / Intravasation

During this module, we’ll turn our attention to the next steps after the initial primary tumor formation, epithelial to mesenchymal transition of cancer cells, and local tumor invasion and intravasation into blood or lymph vessels.

Graded: Invasion and Intravasation

Survival in the Circulation and Extravasation

We’ll now take a close look at cancer survival within the circulation, the role of the circulatory system in metastasis, the genetic determinants of metastatic potential, signalling mechanisms, chemokines, the dock and lock hypothesis, and extravasation.

Graded: Survival in the Circulation and Extravasation

WEEK 3

Dormancy and Secondary Tumor Growth

In this module, we’ll focus on dormancy and secondary tumor growth and how they contribute to the lethality of cancer.

Graded: Dormancy and Secondary Tumor Growth

Morbidity and Mortality Associated with Metastasis

In the previous modules, we’ve looked closely at the sequential steps of metastasis and some of the biology of how metastasis occurs. Now, we’ll turn our attention to morbidity and mortality, or in other words, how cancer hurts and kills people.

Graded: Morbidity and Mortality Associated with Metastasis

ENROLL IN COURSE