Cancer and Environment

This course is part of the programme
Master’s study programme Environment (second cycle)

Objectives and competences

The primary goal of this course is to present and discuss major characteristics of cancer initiation and development, cancer epidemiology, contribution of internal and external environment to cancer development, risk assessment methodologies and approaches for genotoxic and carcinogenic substances, and the importance of cancer prevention and early cancer detection.
Students also gain the ability of critical reading and evaluation of the relevant literature and are aware of methodologies for the risk assessment of potential environmental carcinogens.


Basic knowledge of genetics, cell biology and chemistry.


  • Biology of cancer: genetic mechanisms and mutagenesis, cell mechanism, tumour microenvironment, immunity and cancer;
  • External and internal factors related to cancer development;
  • Groups of carcinogens and their mechanisms of cancer induction and development;
  • Cancer epidemiology in Slovenia and worldwide;
  • Methodologies and approaches for testing potential genotoxic and carcinogenic substances;
  • Exposure and risk assessment;
  • Cancer screening for early detection;
  • General and specific cancer prevention

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:
Students understand and can explain basic concepts of cancer; from genetic mutations, malignant cell transformation, tumour growth, vascularisation, mechanisms of tumour microenvironment to the contribution of the immune response in cancer initiation and progression/eradication. They know the importance of individual genetic background for the cancer susceptibility and development.
They know major groups of environmental carcinogens and their modes of action. They know basic epidemiological data of cancer in Slovenia and worldwide. They are familiar with methodologies and approaches for testing potential genotoxic and carcinogenic substances and are able to select the most appropriate ones for each major group of carcinogens. They know strategies for risk evaluation and potential exposure determination and are able to do their rational implementation.
Students are able to read and critically evaluate scientific literature on the topic. They know how to find appropriate literature, to prepare a comprehensive seminar on the selected topic and to present and discuss it in from of other students.



  • Cancers in the Urban Environment: How Malignant Diseases Are Caused and Distributed Among the Diverse People and Neighborhoods of a Major Global Metropolis/Thomas M. Mack, Elsevier 2020, 978-0-12-811745-3 Catalogue E-gradivo


  • World cancer report 2008, Editors: P. Boyle and B. Levin, published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France, 2008 E-version
  • Environmental Factors, Genes, and the Development of Human Cancers, Editors: R. Deodutta and D. M. Tevfik, published by Springer, 2010 E-version
  • Cancer and the environment, NIH Publication No. 03–2039, August 2003
    h1. Podrobnejša literatura pri določenih poglavjih:
  • SCHER/SCCP/SCENIHR scientific opinion on the risk assessment methodologies and approaches for genotoxic and carcinogenic substances, January 2009

Epidemiology * IARC;

Cancer prevention * IARC;


Written exam or seminar - 100 % (in case of fewer than 5 students; written and oral parts)

Lecturer's references

Associate professor of Biotechnology at the University of Nova Gorica.

1) de Marco A (2018) Nanomaterial bio-activation and macromolecules functionalization: the search for reliable protocols. Prot Expr Purif, 147:49-54
2) Popovic M, Mazzega E, Toffoletto B, de Marco A (2018) Isolation of anti-extra-cellular vesicle single-domain antibodies by direct panning on vesicle-enriched fractions. Microbial Cell Fact, 17:6
3) de Marco A (2017) Acting on folding effectors to improve recombinant protein yields and functional quality. Meth Mol Biol (Heterologous Gene Expression in E. coli), 1586:197-210
4) Crépin R, Gentien D, Duché A, Rapinat A, Reyes C, Némati F, Massonnet G, Decaudin D, Djender S, Moutel S, Desrumeaux K, Cassoux N, Piperno-Neumann S, Amigorena S, Perez F, Roman Roman S, de Marco A (2017) Nanobodies against surface biomarkers enable the analysis of tumor genetic heterogeneity in uveal melanoma Patient Derived Xenografts. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res, 30:317-327
5) Ambrosetti E, Paoletti P, Bosco A, Parisse P, Scaini D, Tagliabue E, de Marco A, Casalis L (2017) Quantification of circulating cancer biomarkers via sensitive topographic measurements on single binder nanoarrays. ACS Omega, 2:2618-2629