Student Portal

Cell Cycle and Cancer

Investigation 1 – PreLab









All cancers begin in cells, the body’s basic unit of life and, to understand cancer, it’s helpful to know what happens when normal cells become cancer cells. By completing this core experience learning lab, students will gain insight into the transition from healthy to abnormal cells. They will also gain awareness about this disease. Early awareness saves lives.


A genetic nurse counselor works in a genetics department with people with a family history of cancer. Their research studies include looking at the prevention and early detection of cancer in families at an increased risk. They also see patients in the clinic who have a family history of cancer to discuss their own risks of developing cancer, make recommendations for screening, and sometimes complete genetic testing.


This Investigation is designed to help you to answer the following Focus Questions:

  • How does the organization of cells within an organ relate to an organ’s function? 
  • How do cells in an organism replenish themselves after normal wear and tear to the tissue? 

Note: These questions are located in your SDR at the beginning and end of the Investigation.


As a class, read the Background(s) in the Investigation. When finished, discuss the following concepts as a class:

  • Multi-cellular organisms are made up of millions of tiny cells.
  • In any one organism, there are many different types of cells.
  • Cells that share a common structure and function can be found grouped and organized into tissues.
  • There are four basic types of animal tissue: epithelial, muscle, nerve, and connective tissue.
  • Two or more tissues work together to form organs.
  • An organ is a group of tissues that work together to perform a specific set of functions for the organism.
  • There are many different organs throughout the human body: the lung, heart, liver, breast, and skin are just a few.
  • The skin is the largest organ in the human body. The function of this organ is to protect the body from external harm like the sun, heat, or cold.
  • The skin is composed of the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous layers.
  • Each layer of skin, epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous, helps contribute to the overall function of the skin, to protect us from harmful UV light, heat, and cold.
  • The lung mostly contains epithelial and connective tissues.
  • The function of the lung is to allow the exchange of oxygen from the air we breathe to blood so that it can be delivered to other tissues in the body where it is needed for normal cell function. It also allows carbon dioxide waste in the blood that came from the tissues throughout the body to leave the body through exhalation.
  • The breast is made of a combination of fatty, glandular, and connective tissue. These tissues function to supply milk for growing infants.  



The following list includes Key Terms that are introduced in the Investigation Background(s). They should be used, as appropriate, by teachers and students during everyday classroom discourse.

  • tissue
  • organ

Note: Definitions of these terms can be found on the Introduction page to the CELL.

Note: Additional words may be bolded within the Background(s). These words are not Key Terms and are strictly emphasized for exposure at this time.


  • Complete the Recall section in your SDR. 
  • What is the smallest living unit of an organism?
  • If two cells have different functions will they be different?
  • Play the video below. Remember to follow along with your SDR and make any notes that you think might be helpful in the lab.
  • After the video, divide into lab groups to discuss strategy for the lab. For example, you may assign certain group members to perform specific functions during the lab.

Note: The purpose of the video is to allow you to anticipate the laboratory experience you will soon encounter. You should leave this PreLab session with a firm idea of what to expect and how to perform in the lab.

Note: Homework is posted below the video.


You should review the Investigation and video in preparation for the Lab.