Cancer and ageing: rival demons?

Nat Rev Cancer. 2003 May;3(5):339-49. doi: 10.1038/nrc1073.


Organisms with renewable tissues use a network of genetic pathways and cellular responses to prevent cancer. The main mammalian tumour-suppressor pathways evolved from ancient mechanisms that, in simple post-mitotic organisms, act predominantly to regulate embryogenesis or to protect the germline. The shift from developmental and/or germline maintenance in simple organisms to somatic maintenance in complex organisms might have evolved at a cost. Recent evidence indicates that some mammalian tumour-suppressor mechanisms contribute to ageing. How might this have happened, and what are its implications for our ability to control cancer and ageing?

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Apoptosis
  • Cellular Senescence
  • DNA Repair
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Longevity
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / physiology
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology


  • Retinoblastoma Protein
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53