Molecular Mechanisms in Cancer

7.5 credits

Syllabus, Master's level, 3PA013

A revised version of the syllabus is available.
Education cycle
Second cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
Medical Science A1N
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
Finalised by
The Educational Board of Medicine, 12 December 2017
Responsible department
Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology

Entry requirements

180 credits within the Natural Sciences, Medical, Biomedical, civil engineers programmes or international education; all educations need to include chemistry or biochemistry and molecular biology with genomics of 30 credits.

Learning outcomes

The aim of the course is to provide an in-depth understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of cancer. The course will provide students with the knowledge and training needed to approach and formulate scientific questions relevant to the cancer biology. The course will also survey the frontiers of cancer research and aims to make the students accustomed to the applied advanced methods, technologies and state-of-the-art web-tools used in cancer research.

After this course the student should be able to:

  • explain the basic characteristics that distinguish a tumour cell from its normal counterpart, and the genetic, epigenetic, and molecular mechanisms that underlie the transformation from a normal cell to malignant cancer cell.
  • describe the major risk factors for carcinogenesis and how they are connected to the molecular mechanisms of cancer development.
  • explain how genomic integrity is maintained, and the mechanisms involved in generating genetic instability in cancer, and its significance for tumour development.
  • explain the basic principles for how a tumour interacts with the micro-environment, including invasive growth and metastasis, influence of inflammation and infiltration of normal cells, and how immune system recognises and kills tumour cells and the changes that allow the cancer cell to escape host defence.
  • discuss new therapeutic strategies targeting tumour-associated molecular mechanisms, and how the new genetic and epigenetic knowledge can be used clinically.
  • apply bioinformatic tools within cancer research.
  • analyse and formulate relevant scientific questions within tumour biology.


This course will focus on the cellular and molecular mechanisms and the changes by which normal cellular controls are abrogated resulting in cancer. Introductory lectures on basic tumour classification and pathology will be followed by more in-depth analysis of the cell- and molecular biology of cancer. Host response to cancer will also be discussed, as well as hereditary cancer. Current clinical diagnostics and treatment of cancer will be covered as well as methods and technologies used.

Practical exercises during the course can be in the form of laboratory exercises and computer-based exercises.

Seminars together with researchers during the course will give opportunities for students to discuss ongoing research in the field of cancer biology.

Topics discussed during the course:

Tumour biology and tumour classification, tumour viruses, oncogenes, growth factors and receptors, signalling pathways, tumour suppressor genes, epigenetics in cancer, apoptosis, tumorigenesis, genome instability, angiogenesis, tumour immunology, clinical oncology, cancer diagnostics and treatments; current and new therapies, current methods and technologies used in cancer diagnostics and research.


Lectures, seminars and laboratory exercises. Problem-oriented exercises and presentations relating to current research topics. Participation in all scheduled activities is compulsory. The course is given in English.


Examination is arranged during and at the end of the course. A passing grade for the entire course requires fulfilment (passing grades) of exercises, laboratory work and seminars.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University's disability coordinator.