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Sammy Franks Dies

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Leonard Maurice Franks, the prostate pathologist and cancer researcher who made the link between cancer and aging, passed away this week, reports The Guardian's Nicholas Wright. Franks, known widely as Sammy, was 90 years old. His research into the high frequency of prostate cancer in older men led to the conclusion that "if a man lives long enough, he will develop prostate cancer," Wright says. Franks' concept of tumor latency — the idea that a tumor early in its development can stay for years without progressing — led directly to the prostate cancer screening model of watchful waiting. Franks also introduced cell culture and electron microscopy to cancer research, and was considered an authority on tumor biology, Wright adds, and used these tools to study cancer development. He was the first to isolate clones of tumor cells with metastatic potential and study their properties. Many say his work showing genetic differences between cells with high and low metastatic potential led directly to the field of tumor heterogeneity, Wright says.

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