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Glossary of Molecular Biology of Cancer and Molecular Techniques


Learning objectives

The aim of the ESMO Glossary in Molecular Biology of Cancer and Molecular Techniques is to serve as an aid to practicing oncologists while they are acquiring knowledge and developing an awareness and appreciation of the molecular processes underlying the development of cancer.

The second goal is to help them to understand the basic requirements for the common laboratory techniques used to demonstrate molecular features of malignancy when critically evaluating and interpreting research findings.

The ultimate goal of this Glossary is to develop a common terminology and to enable oncology practitioners to speak the same language with basic scientists and translational researchers when analyzing research findings and translating cancer biology to cancer medicine.


In developing this Glossary, the ESMO Translational Research and Personalised Medicine Working Group (TR and PM) considered a review of a previous ESMO document, the Glossary in Molecular Biology of Cancer, as a priority. The first edition was produced more than a decade ago on the occasion of an ESMO educational course. The aim was to enhance the understanding of attendees in a difficult area for most clinicians. In the meantime, the field of cancer biology has become increasingly important and new complex terms and knowledge have emerged, as well as molecular techniques in oncology.

Therefore, the members of the ESMO TR and PM have revised the textual content of the previous Glossary, basically the definitions of terms ordered from A to Z. During the revision process, the question of having more incentives from such a publication was raised, and the idea of adding images illustrative of the terms was born. Images for certain terms have been selected with permission from the respective journals where they were initially published. In addition, TR and PM members wished to see incentives beyond classical reading and suggested accompanying each selected term by an image consisting of two panes, one of the structure of the gene, and the second of its network. The same logic was used for description of molecular techniques in cancer research.


We would like to thank Dr Teresa Troiani for her assistance in the selection of images; Yosef Yarden, PhD, for ideas pairing the structure of the gene with its mechanistic network; Mr Andrea Norsa for the cover page design, which is a redesigned image of the structure of Src, published in the ESMO flagship journal Annals of Oncology; and Dr Svetlana Jezdic, Claire Bramley, and Keith McGregor, PhD, for their assistance in the editorial process. An online glossary prepared by the Journal of Clinical Oncology was consulted during the revision process.

Glossary in Molecular BiologyGlossary in Molecular Techniques

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