Cell Division and Cancer Risk
This activity guides the analysis of a published scientific figure from a study that investigated how random mutations during cell division can contribute to cancer.
Hereditary and environmental factors explain only a fraction of overall cancer risk. In this study, researchers investigated how a third factor, chance mutations during stem cell division and DNA replication, may contribute to the cancer rates of various body tissues. The figure compares how many times stem cells divide in different tissues with the lifetime risks of developing cancer in those tissues. The “Educator Materials” document includes a captioned figure, background information, graph interpretation, and discussion questions. The “Student Handout” includes a captioned figure and background information.
Student Learning Targets
- Analyze and interpret data from a scientific figure.
- Describe how cell division can contribute to cancer risk in body tissues.
carcinoma, correlation, logarithmic scale, mutation, sarcoma, scatter plot, tissue, tumor
Tomasetti, Cristian, and Bert Vogelstein. “Variation in cancer risk among tissues can be explained by the number of stem cell divisions.” Science 347, 6217 (2015): 78–81. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1260825.
To access this article, set up a free AAAS account. An annotated version of the article is also available from Science in the Classroom.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS1-4; SEP2, SEP4, SEP5
IST-1.E, IST-4.A; SP1, SP4
Math.S-ID.3, Math.S-IC.1; MP2, MP5
CC2; DP2, DP3