Nucleic acids are macromolecules comprised of chains of nucleotides. In the double helix formed by deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), purines pair with pyrimidines and are joined together by hydrogen bonds. DNA serves as a template for the transcription of RNA; in a process called translation, RNA provides instructions for the synthesis of proteins. Cancer is a genetic disease. Most cancers are sporadic and result from genetic alterations in somatic cells. Some cancers are inherited, with genetic alterations in germline cells conferring an increased oncogenic risk. Oncogenesis is a complex, dynamic, and often multistep process which is likely dependent on the acquisition of several biological capabilities by somatic cells that result in their independence to external growth signals, insensitivity to external anti-growth signals, indefinite replication, evasion of apoptosis, sustained angiogenesis, activation of tissue invasion and metastasis, reprogramming of energy metabolism, and evasion of host immune response. Knowledge about oncogenic hallmarks has allowed for the establishment and expansion of many areas of personalized cancer care through detection or measurement of molecular biomarkers.
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