Senescence, apoptosis and therapy--cutting the lifelines of cancer

Nat Rev Cancer. 2003 Apr;3(4):286-95. doi: 10.1038/nrc1044.


Apoptosis and senescence are cellular failsafe programmes that counteract excessive mitogenic signalling from activated oncogenes. Cancellation of apoptosis or senescence is therefore a prerequisite for tumour formation, and the ability of the cancer cell to disrupt these processes can be considered its 'lifeline'. Ironically, the efficacy of anticancer agents also depends on the activation of apoptosis or an acutely inducible form of cellular senescence. Understanding how the 'lifelines' of the cancer cell interfere with treatment sensitivity is of crucial importance for developing safer and more effective treatment strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cellular Senescence / drug effects
  • Cellular Senescence / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Oncogenes / drug effects
  • Oncogenes / physiology