Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Gender equality Clean water and sanitation

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end the student will know the transformed phenotype, the pathogenesis of cancer, including the interactions with the microenvironment and the immune system, and molecular cancer progression up to the metastatic diffusion. The student will be able to identify the phases of development and the tumor types relevant to human oncology and to define molecular targets for innovative targeted therapies.

Course contents

Introduction, definitions and classification

  • Basic Oncology and Medical Oncology
  • The size of the problem
  • Benign and malignant tumors

Tumors are genic diseases

  • Oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, "gatekeepers" and "caretakers"
  • Mechanisms of cancer gene activation/inactivation and their consequences
  • Therapeutic implications of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes
  • Genetic predispositions

The neoplastic phenotype

  • Growth – Differentiation – Cell death
  • Genomic instability
  • Morphological and metabolic features

Natural history

  • Monoclonality – Heterogeneity
  • Preneoplastic lesions
  • Progression

The causes of cancer

  • Exogenous and endogenous carcinogens
  • Biological and molecular mechanisms of physical, chemical and biological carcinogenesis
  • Cancer epidemiology

Tumor-host relationships

  • Angiogenesis
  • The metastatic process
  • Paraneoplastic syndromes
  • Tumor immunology

Fundamentals of cancer prevention

  • Primary prevention
  • Secondary prevention

Fundamentals of cancer therapy

  • Basis and molecular/biological mechanisms of cancer therapy: radiation therapy, drugs, biological and immunological agents, gene therapy


•Robbins & Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease, (Robbins Pathology)Chapter on Neoplasia 

•Pontieri, Russo, Frati: Patologia Generale, Chapters on Oncology 

•AIOM-AIRTUM: I numeri del cancro in Italia. www.aiom.it

•Weinberg: The biology of cancer

•Pecorino: Molecular Biology of Cancer

•DeVita, Lawrence, Rosenberg: Cancer, Principles and Practice of Oncology

Teaching methods


Assessment methods

The oral exam will cover all the subjects of the course. The student has to answer questions to demonstrate his/her knowledge of speciifc subjects, the ability to understand the links between different parts of the course, and the use of appropriate terminology

Teaching tools

All the slides and other teaching tools used for lectures are made available to the students.

Office hours

See the website of Pier Luigi Lollini

See the website of Patrizia Nanni