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Programmed cell death and cancer
  1. Y Sun1,2,
  2. Z-L Peng1
  1. 1
    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, West China Second Hospital, West China Center of Medical Sciences, Sichuan University, Chendu, Sichuan, China
  2. 2
    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Fujian Provincial Hospital, Fujian Provincial Clinical Medical College, Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou, Fujian, China
  1. Professor Z-L Peng, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, West China Second Hospital, Sichuan University, No. 20, Section 3, South People’s Road, Chendu, Sichuan, 610041, China; zhilanpeng{at}


Programmed cell death (PCD) is an important terminal pathway for cells of multicellular organisms, and is involved in a variety of biological events that include morphogenesis, maintenance of tissue homeostasis, and elimination of harmful cells. Dysfunction of PCD leads to various diseases in humans, especially various cancers. Accumulating evidence indicates that PCD is closely related to anti-cancer therapy. Recently, many studies have subdivided PCD into the three categories: apoptosis, autophagy, and programmed necrosis, based on criteria such as morphological alterations, initiating death signal, and the activation of caspases. In this article, we will review the main features and functions of all three types of programmed cell death, focusing on their roles in tumour cells and the relationship of the three types of cell death in anti-cancer therapy.

  • programmed cell death
  • cancer
  • anti-cancer therapy
  • pharmacology

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  • Competing interests: None.