Esther Juárez

Inside Cancer: Overview

Inside Cancer: Overview

It is of a big interest to know what cancer is and the way it affects the body. What is it? Cancer is a disease that affects people of all nationalities and age groups. There are many different types of cancer, which affect different parts of the body. A cancer, also known as a tumor can manifest itself in any organ tissue of the human body. Solid tumors form lumps, while liquid tumors flow freely in the blood. Many of which can develop in different parts of the body like: brain, lung, liver, stomach, skin, and prostate. Normal cells in our body grow, multiply, and die in a healthy way that does not damage the body. The majority of cancer cases are due to age issues. Furthermore, as a disease, cancer has causes, prevention methods, diagnosis, and treatments.

Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells in the body grow and multiply at a very high rate since they do not respond to signals that usually regulate cell growth and division. Even when a cancer cell does not properly work for a vital function, it continues producing more and more cancer cells. Cancer cells learn on their own how to reproduce in the absence of a specific signal that normal cells require for their environment in order to function properly. Since signals are important for the reproduction and death of a cell, cancer cells do not die when they should because of a genetic alteration in the DNA sequence. In order for a cancer cell or a tumor to increase in size, cancer cells attract blood vessels to nourish the tumor like any other organ in the body to support life. Normal cells double a certain limited infinite number of times naturally, in the case of cancer cells; they have to learn how to proliferate indefinitely. Most of the deaths of human cancers equivalent to 90% are due to cancer cells spreading out in the body. The process when cancer cells finally settle down and start growing forming other tumors in other parts of the body is called metastasis. Even when cancer spreads, it receives the name of the body where it originally started and eventually developed. Leukemia is a type of cancer that usually does not form a tumor. Even though cancer is caused primarily because of a change in the genetic material, there are many other factors that influence this change.

Despite the attention given to inherited cancer genes, less than 10% of all cancers are inherited. Most people think synthetic chemicals cause cancer but research has shown that less than 5% of cancer cases are caused by this problem. Inheritance, diet, mold, and viruses are factors that play a big role in what really causes the cancer. For example, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Lung cancer is almost entirely preventable, since the vast majority of these cases are due to smoking habits. Another important example that needs attention is the breast cancer. Breast cancer arises in the breast, organ that is responsive to the female hormone, estrogen. With a decrease in estrogen, which is a hormone that helps cancer to grow, it will be possible to bring cancer cells to death. Cancer is all about genetics, in case of inheritance, cancer is caused by genetic mutations in genes that lead to the malignancy and deficiency. Genetic risks play also a significant role in the development of these cancers that overall are just referring to genetic mutations. About 10% of cancer patients inherit a genetic defect conferring a susceptibility to cancers over their lifetimes. Yet another factor that leads to the development of cancer is the byproduct of mold. Long-term exposure to aflatoxin (byproduct) has been linked to increase incidence of liver cancer. On the other hand we have viruses, which are infectious agents that can replicate only within the cells of other organisms. Humans are affected by a large variety of viruses; therefore, viruses can affect the cell life cycle. There is a wide variety of factors that help to increase the ability to develop cancer disease throughout the world affecting human life.

In order to identify what causes the cancer and prevention strategies to all these problems, it is important to be aware of the fact that, the healthier life humans have, the better quality of organisms in their body, and the and the mutations will not occur. It is also important to be aware of the pathology, to observe and recognize any abnormalities in order to diagnose and treat the condition on time. Regarding treatments and medications that are being developed to treat the abnormal behavior of cells, Pharmacogenetics comes to play as an important tool helping in the identification of the responses one person can have to certain treatments. Different bodies have different reactions to certain drugs. Herceptin for example, is a treatment that targets a specific molecule in a particular type of cancer. As more of these precisely targeted therapies develop, it will make a significant change in the understanding of molecules and their role affecting particular cancer cases. Chemotherapy is another medical treatment needed in order to stop cancer cells from growing, it damages cancer cells, but it also can damage normal cells; moreover, it is extremely effective in helping to treat the disease. It is even more effective when it is used with other treatments like radiotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs work through the whole body because it allows such drugs to reach parts of the body where the cancer cells may have spread out. For instance, normal cells that divide quickly, such as blood cells and the cells of hair follicles are more likely to be damaged by chemotherapy medications. Damage to these normal cells is what causes the side effects of chemotherapy treatment. In other words, in healthy cells the damage does not last, and many only happen on the days you are actually taking the drugs. Chemotherapy usually is given in more than one cycle, depending on the drug, combination, and type of cancer; it may last to a few hours, days, or even weeks. On the other hand, radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, is the use of high-energy rays to treat cancer disease. Is it very important to understand radiation causes damage to cancer cells, so they can stop growing; such treatment is also quite painless and very effective as the ones mentioned before.

Acquaintance with these causes, prevention methods, diagnosis, and treatments, has significant relevance because it helps our understanding to a better approach of how cancer cells should be treated and combated. Understanding the nature of some of the genes that go up in these prognosis tumors, the factors that influence the cancer disease, and the improvement in treatments that are being developed, then it might be ultimately possible to design better drugs that would specifically target these genes and then treat those cancers in a much more effective way. Hopefully, the combination of these procedures and approaches will some day lead us to finding a cure for such an impacting and devastating state of the body, generating concern around the world.

References
 Insidecancer.org Dolan DNA Learning Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Interactive. Knowledge, Inc. 2004. Web. Dec 5, 2011.

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