in as easy a way as i can describe it for you, the pathophysiology of a generic cancer cell is as follows. the division, reproduction and replacement of all normal cells are controlled by regulator genes. a normal cell has regulator genes that produce hormones that act as on and off switches that begin or stop cell division and differentiation. a cell becomes cancerous when these regulator genes and the hormones they produce develop errors in function or stop functioning altogether. the normal cell then loses the ability to reproduce normally. the problem may be with the gene itself or in the synthesis of the hormones controlling this cell cycling process. what happens is that with the mechanism controlling their division and differentiation on the fritz these cells go into overdrive and begin unrestricted division and reproduction. their rate of reproduction increases dramatically and in a very disorderly way compared to the normal cells around them. if they also lose their ability to differentiate a state called anaplasia results. as these cells continue to multiply they begin to lose some of their resemblance to the original cell they started from. this mutation continues if the process cannot be successfully stopped. the normal cells around them will try to "rescue" the situation by evoking the immune or inflammatory response and by releasing other growth factors, hormones and chemicals into the area in an attempt to stop what is going on. for one of these wayward cells to develop into a tumor, the body's immune system must fail to recognize or respond to it. in addition, there must be enough of a blood supply to bring oxygen and nutrients to nourish these mutated cells so they can thrive. blood supply is a big factor in the early survival success of a tumor. however, once a tumor is able to successfully thrive and grow relentlessly, it will begin to produce it's own angiogenesis factors which will stimulate the formation of new blood vessels around them in order to meet its growth and nutrition demands. when tumor tissue extends close to or into blood or lymph circulation, cells will break off and travel to other sites in the body resulting in metastasis.
you'll want to review the normal cell cycle from anatomy and physiology and how cell are "turned on" or "off" to divide and reproduce themselves. the process is called social control and is regulated by social control genes with specific names.
helpful? here's some links to information on it. get hunkered in for some serious reading. some of this stuff is deep.
- cancer and the cell cycle
- genes and cancer