Cancer Cell Invasion
This activity explores an image of tumor cells invading muscle tissue, which serves as a phenomenon for learning about cancer, mutations, and cell division.
Tumor cells can invade and colonize other tissues through a process called metastasis, which begins with “leader” cells breaking off from the tumor. Leader cells are both genetically and behaviorally different from the main “body” of the tumor, and they guide other tumor cells into invading healthy tissue. This image shows cells in a breast tumor (green with leader cells shown in pink) invading the surrounding muscle tissue (blue).
The “Educator Materials” document includes background information and implementation suggestions for using the image as a phenomenon. The “Student Handout” includes the image and background information.
Image by Kevin Cheung, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Student Learning Targets
- Examine images of phenomena, make observations, and ask questions.
- Collaborate with peers on ideas, ask questions that require higher levels of reasoning, and develop deeper understanding of concepts.
- Describe how mutations in specific genes can lead to abnormal cell division and cancer.
breast cancer, cell division, leader cell, metastasis, mitosis, muscle, mutation, tumor
Figure 2a (with modifications to color) from: Cheung, Kevin J., Edward Gabrielson, Zena Werb, and Andrew J. Ewald. "Collective Invasion in Breast Cancer Requires a Conserved Basal Epithelial Program." Cell 155, 7 (2013): 1639–1651. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2013.11.029.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
AP Biology (2019)
IST-1.B, IST-1.E, IST-2.E, IST-4.A; SP3
IB Biology (2016)
Common Core (2010)
Vision and Change (2009)