Cancer is a genetic disease caused by mutations in somatic cells. It appears to arise by a process in which an initial population of altered cells begins to proliferate abnormally. At each step, one cancerous cell acquires an additional mutation that gives it a selective advantage over its neighbors, such as more rapid growth, and the descendants of this cell become dominant within the cancer population. In culture, the proliferation of the most cancerous cells is not sensitive to density-dependent inhibition; therefore, cancerous cells usually continue growing to high cell densities.

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