Skip to main content

Unit information: Cancer Mechanisms and Therapeutics in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Cancer Mechanisms and Therapeutics
Unit code PANM33004
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Roberts
Open unit status Not open



3 level 6/H lecture units and Research Skills unit.

School/department School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


This unit covers cellular and molecular changes that result in common cancers such as breast and colon including genetics of colorectal (FAP and HNPCC) and breast cancer (BRCA1 and BRCA2). Importance of tumour microenvironment, inflammation and NFkB in carcinogenesis. DNA repair pathways, genomic stability and breast cancer will be covered. Regulation of the cell cycle by the tumour suppressor genes, TGFbeta, Rb, p53, and why loss of function represents the most common event in human cancer. Normal apoptosis pathways, deregulation of apoptotic signalling in carcinogenesis and its role in the development of drug resistance. This unit will also include a brief review of the epidemiology of cancer and current approaches for both cancer prevention (NSAIDs) and the exploitation of targets, described above, for novel chemopreventive and therapeutic approaches. Data handling/essay writing tutorial. Lectures will be held in weeks 13-16.


the aims are to increase our understanding of how cancer develop and in particular which key genes and growth signalling pathways become defective and lead to the development of common adult sporadic and hereditary cancers. A further aim is to show how knowledge of these defective signalling pathways can lead to novel measures to prevent cancer and new treatments for the early detection and cure of cancer.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding of which key genes and signalling pathways become deregulated during multistage carcinogenesis and give rise to major common adult cancers such as breast and bowel cancer. Knowledge and understanding of how the identification of deregulated signalling pathways and tumours environment (whether inherited or acquired) can lead to the development of new chemopreventive and therapeutic approaches for cancer.

Knowledge of the scientific literature pertaining to cancer mechanisms and therapeutics and an ability to evaluate this literature critically.

Teaching details

Lectures, Data Handling Session

Independent study: Students are expected to study the recommended literature.

Assessment Details

Summative 2 hour written exam, to include 2 essays, one essay to be chosen from each section containing three questions.

Reading and References

Reviews and primary articles from the current scientific literature.