* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received December 4, 2007
In this essay crucial problems of the origin of cancer and the development of malignancy are discussed. The problem of precancer and three ways leading to malignancy are considered: induction of tumor precursors, accumulation of genetic traits common for tumor growth, and the role of inflammation in tumor induction. The nature of viral oncogenes and modes of their action are described in the context of their origin as a component of the viral genome. Oncogenes of RNA-containing viruses and DNA-containing tumorigenic viruses are described together with cellular protooncogenes, which are progenitors of RNA-containing viral oncogenes. Hematological malignancies are described as an intermediate form between simple tumors induced by a single oncogene and more complicated epithelial tumors. The roles of tumor suppressor genes and the interaction of several oncogenes in the formation of carcinomas and also the role of progression in tumor evolution are discussed.
KEY WORDS: carcinogenesis, precancer, oncogenes, protooncogenes, suppressors, progression, epithelial-mesenchymal transition