This page presents a collection of graphics to explain key differences between normal and cancer cells. Most of the ideas shown below are explained in more detail on other pages. On this page we use only a few words and let the graphics provide the explanations.
Every case of cancer, in every patient, is unique. No two breast cancers or prostate cancers are identical. This variation is one of the things that makes cancer hard to treat.
Even with all the differences, all cancers DO share a set of common features. In 2000, Robert Weinberg and Douglas Hanahan published a paper that lists and described some of the most important things that cancers have in common - the 'Hallmarks of Cancer'.1
The cartoons below are based on this work and observations that have some since.
Note that additional details on ideas illustrated below can be found in: What is cancer?.
In-depth descriptions of these and other topics are presented in the Cancer Biology section of the site.
How are cancer cells different from normal cells?
1Hanahan, D., & Weinberg, R. (2000). The hallmarks of cancer. Cell, 100(1), 57-70. (Original work published 01/2000AD) [PUBMED]