Introduction to the Biology of Cancer Course Reviews

The course Introduction to the Biology of Cancer by Kenneth J. Pienta on Coursera, provides an overview of the biology of cancer and the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms that drive its development.

Introduction to the Biology of Cancer Course Reviews
Introduction to the Biology of Cancer Course Reviews

Throughout the course, students will learn about the various types of cancer and their causes, including genetic and environmental factors. They will also explore the different stages of cancer progression, from initiation to metastasis, and the role of the immune system in cancer development.

The course covers various topics related to the biology of cancer, including the hallmarks of cancer, cancer genetics, cancer stem cells, and the tumor microenvironment. Students will also learn about the different approaches to cancer treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.

The course consists of 6 modules, with each module containing video lectures, quizzes, and exercises to reinforce learning. Students can also participate in discussion forums to connect with other learners and ask questions.

By the end of the course, students will have gained a deeper understanding of the biology of cancer and the current state of cancer research and treatment. They will also have learned how to critically evaluate scientific literature and communicate effectively about cancer-related topics. Overall, the course is ideal for anyone interested in a career in cancer research, medicine, or public health.

Course Content:

The Introduction to the Biology of Cancer course by Kenneth J. Pienta on Coursera consists of 6 modules and a total of 32 lectures. Each part is made up of several short lectures covering different topics in cancer biology. Here is an overview of the modules and lectures in the course:

Module 1: Incidence and Etiology of Cancer (5 videos + 4 readings)

In this first week, we'll get a high-level introduction to the basics of cancer biology as well as incidence and common types of cancer.

5 videosTotal 47 minutes
  • Welcome to the Course3 minutesPreview module
  • Incidence and Etiology Overview0 minutes
  • Incidence and Etiology of Cancer10 minutes
  • Cancer Incidence4 minutes
  • The Common Cancers29 minutes
4 readingsTotal 40 minutes
  • Welcome10 minutes
  • Grading and Honors Lesson10 minutes
  • Suggested Reading List10 minutes
  • Pre-Course Survey10 minutes


Module 2: Genetics of Cancer (4 videos)

Now, we'll turn our attention to the genetics of cancer, variation and mutation, two-hit hypothesis, and genomic instability.

4 videosTotal 16 minutes
  • Genetics Overview1 minutePreview module
  • Basic Introduction to Genetics5 minutes
  • Genetic Variation and Mutation3 minutes
  • Two-Hit Hypothesis and Genomic Instability6 minutes


Module 3: Ten Cellular Hallmarks of Cancer (4 videos)

All cancers share ten cellular hallmarks. This week, you'll learn to identify these hallmarks in order to distinguish a normal cell from a cancerous cell.

4 videosTotal 36 minutes
  • Cellular Hallmarks Overview1 minutePreview module
  • The Human Cell and Hallmarks of Cancer 1-516 minutes
  • The Human Cell and Cellular Hallmarks Cancer 6-88 minutes
  • Cellular Hallmarks of Cancer 9 & 10: Preparing the Cancer Cell to Move and Metastasize10 minutes


Module 4: Metastasis: The Real Killer (5 videos)

The lethal agent of cancer is metastasis. This week, we'll take a good look at this deadly event, TNM staging, the metastatic process, and an ecological paradigm.

5 videosTotal 32 minutes
  • Metastasis Overview1 minutePreview module
  • Introduction to Metastasis6 minutes
  • TNM Staging5 minutes
  • The Metastatic Process12 minutes
  • An Ecological Paradigm: Why Do Cancer Cells Metastasize from the Primary Tumor?5 minutes


Module 5: Imaging in Oncology (5 videos)

This week, we'll examine imaging as a tool for diagnosis, staging, and treatment of cancer.

5 videosTotal 37 minutes
  • Imaging Overview1 minutePreview module
  • Introduction to Imaging8 minutes
  • Types of Imaging7 minutes
  • Imaging in Clinical Oncology14 minutes
  • Theory of Oligometastasis and How Treatment is Supported by Imaging5 minutes


Module 6: Treatment (9 videos + 1 reading)

In this final week, we'll examine the variety of treatment options available to doctors and patients as well as the features of clinical trials and how they are used to improve the treatment arsenal.

9 videosTotal 53 minutes
  • Treatment Overview0 minutesPreview module
  • Types of Treatment15 minutes
  • Types of Treatments for Individual Cancers14 minutes
  • Clinical Trials3 minutes
  • Wrap-Up1 minute
  • Liver Cancer Overview0 minutes
  • Incidence, Risk Factors, Screening7 minutes
  • Staging For Liver Cancer3 minutes
  • Treatment of Liver Cancer5 minutes
1 readingTotal 10 minutes
  • Post-Course Survey10 minutes




As a former student of Introduction to the Biology of Cancer by Kenneth J. Pienta on Coursera, I can say that it is an excellent course that provides a comprehensive introduction to the biology of cancer.

The course covers a wide range of topics, including the molecular and cellular basis of cancer, cancer genetics, tumor microenvironment, cancer treatment, and prevention. The material is presented in an accessible and engaging manner, with clear explanations and examples to help illustrate key concepts.

One of the strengths of the course is the use of real-life case studies and examples, which helped me understand the practical implications of the concepts covered. The interactive quizzes and assignments were also helpful in testing my understanding and reinforcing my learning.

The video lectures are delivered by a highly experienced cancer researcher, and the quality of the content is excellent. The course also features interviews with leading cancer researchers and clinicians, which provided valuable insights into the latest developments in cancer research and treatment.

Overall, I found the course to be informative, engaging, and well-organized, with a good balance of theoretical and practical content. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the biology of cancer, regardless of their background or level of expertise.

At the time, the course has an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars based on over 6,899 ratings.

What you'll learn:

After completing the Introduction to the Biology of Cancer course by Kenneth J. Pienta on Coursera, students can gain several skills that are essential in the field of cancer biology. These skills include:

  1. Critical thinking: The course emphasizes critical thinking skills by providing students with a deep understanding of the fundamental concepts of cancer biology. Students learn how to evaluate research studies, analyze data, and interpret scientific findings. They also learn how to apply scientific concepts to solve problems related to cancer.

  2. Scientific literacy: The course provides students with a solid foundation in scientific literacy, which is the ability to read, write, and communicate scientific information effectively. Students learn how to read scientific papers, analyze scientific data, and communicate scientific concepts to a general audience. These skills are essential for professionals in the healthcare industry who need to communicate complex information to patients and the public.

  3. Problem-solving: The course teaches students how to identify problems in cancer biology and develop innovative solutions. They learn how to apply scientific concepts to solve complex problems related to cancer research and develop new treatments.

  4. Research skills: The course provides students with a range of research skills, including data analysis, literature review, and scientific writing. Students learn how to analyze data, interpret scientific findings, and write scientific papers. These skills are essential for conducting research in the field of cancer biology.

  5. Communication skills: The course emphasizes communication skills, including scientific writing and presentation. Students learn how to communicate scientific findings to colleagues, patients, and the general public. They also learn how to write scientific papers, abstracts, and grants.

  6. Interdisciplinary knowledge: The course provides an interdisciplinary approach to cancer biology, covering topics such as molecular biology, genetics, immunology, and epidemiology. Students learn how to integrate knowledge from different disciplines to understand the complex nature of cancer and develop effective treatments.

  7. Professional development: The course provides students with opportunities for professional development, including networking with peers, accessing resources for further learning, and developing a career in cancer research.

In summary, the Introduction to the Biology of Cancer course provides students with a range of essential skills for a career in cancer research, healthcare, and related fields. These skills include critical thinking, scientific literacy, problem-solving, research skills, communication skills, interdisciplinary knowledge, and professional development.


Kenneth J. Pienta is a renowned American oncologist and cancer researcher. He is currently the Donald S. Coffey Professor of Urology and the Director of Research for the Brady Urological Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Pienta's research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of cancer progression and metastasis. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on topics such as cancer biology, metastasis, tumor microenvironment, and drug development.

Dr. Pienta is also a dedicated educator and has been involved in teaching cancer biology and urology to medical students, residents, and fellows for over 30 years. He has trained numerous students and postdoctoral fellows who have gone on to successful careers in cancer research and oncology.

Dr. Pienta is recognized as a leading authority in the field of cancer biology and has received numerous awards and honors for his contributions to the field. He has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine and the American Association for Cancer Research Academy, among others.

In summary, Dr. Kenneth J. Pienta is a highly accomplished and respected oncologist and cancer researcher. His research has significantly contributed to our understanding of cancer progression and metastasis, and he has been a dedicated educator in the field for over three decades. His expertise and leadership have made significant contributions to the field of cancer research and oncology.


The requirements for Introduction to the Biology of Cancer authored by Kenneth J. Pienta, are:

  1. Basic knowledge of biology: Learners are expected to have a basic understanding of biology, including cellular biology, genetics, and molecular biology. The course assumes familiarity with these concepts, and learners without this background may struggle to understand the material.

  2. Interest in cancer biology: The course is designed for learners who are interested in the biology of cancer and how it affects the human body. Learners should have a curiosity about the mechanisms of cancer development, progression, and treatment.

  3. Access to a computer and internet: The course is offered online through the Coursera platform, so learners will need access to a computer and the internet to participate. Learners should have a reliable internet connection and access to a computer that meets the minimum technical requirements specified by Coursera.

  4. Time commitment: The course is self-paced, but learners should be prepared to spend at least 4-6 hours per week on coursework. The course is divided into multiple modules, each consisting of multiple video lectures and quizzes, and learners are expected to complete all modules and assignments within the specified time frame.

  5. English language proficiency: The course is taught in English, so learners should have a good command of the English language to fully understand and engage with the material. Learners should be comfortable reading and writing in English, and should be able to follow along with lectures and participate in discussions.

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