I have read somewhere that cancer is detectable when the number of cells reaches $10^7 - 10^9$, which probably varies according to the specific tumor. At this early stage, what is the expected number of subclones of the tumor? Any references would be super appreciated!

p/s: To answer this, I tried running a simple code for a birth-death process, but my laptop freezes at $10^7$ cells. :(

  • $\begingroup$ Is this in humans? What is the form of detection? There are over 100 different types of cancer, so maybe pick one? $\endgroup$ – Andrew Aug 14 '20 at 4:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Andrew Any example in human cancer would be sufficient. Thank you for pointing out the confusion! $\endgroup$ – Paichu Aug 14 '20 at 5:19
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    $\begingroup$ How do you define subclones? $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Aug 14 '20 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ It is impossible to define subclones. But is is possible to define when metastasis. Thus, this question may be unanswerable. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Aug 15 '20 at 7:54
  • $\begingroup$ @MattDMo I apologize. I was under the impression that this is a well-defined concept. I have seen some phylogenetic trees for keeping track of cancer mutation, which is why I assume they are what biologists consider subclones. $\endgroup$ – Paichu Aug 15 '20 at 9:10

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