Did you know that cancer, or as most people call it, the ‘dreaded C’ has around 16.9 million survivors in the United States alone? Cancer doesn’t come knocking on your doors, but no one is safe, as it can start almost anywhere any day.
Simply put, cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells due to the mutation in the genes. But, is that all? Well, not really! There is so much to it as well. So, what is cancer and how does it even arise?
Well, you can find the internet filled with hundreds of blogs on it, but most of it misses out on making it easy to understand for the regular people. That’s why we decided to round it up all for you and get you a blog that helps you comprehend.
What is Cancer?
Human bodies are made up of trillions of cells, and every day they undergo cell division to maintain the right number of cells. The old cells divide to give rise to new cells and this cell division is regulated by cell signals coming from the genetic material of the cells, which determine the period.
However, if the cells’ genetic materials undergo mutation (change in the genetic material), then this regulated process might go for a toss. Due to mutation, the cell signals might start to divide at an uncontrollable rate and eventually form a lump of cells or growth called a tumor.
These tumors develop at an unprecedented rate to give rise to abnormal, cancerous cells. The cancer cells can also invade the neighboring tissues and rob them of their share of oxygen and nutrients.
Sometimes, cancer cells can also break away from their origin and travel to distant organs through the bloodstreams to form more tumors. This process is called metastasis.
What are the Differences Between Cancer Cells and Normal Cells?
The cancer cells are different from normal cells. Here’s what makes cancer cells so dangerous. While the regular cells are specialized to mature into distinct cell types, cancerous cells need not do that and can only focus on growing at an uncontrollable rate.
Additionally, cancer cells can ignore specific signals like apoptosis or programmed cell death, while the normal cells can’t. Apoptosis is a vital function as the human body gets rid of cells that are not needed anymore.
Cancer cells can influence the nearby regular cells to form blood vessels such that the cancer cells have a continuous supply of oxygen and nutrients to grow further.
That’s not all! These cells can also evade the network of organs, immune system, and specialized cells that protect our body from antigens and infections.
How Does Cancer Arise?
Simply put, this is a genetic disease where a single mutation can lead to the unregulated growth of cancer cells. Although these changes are considered a big-time reason, sometimes such mutations can be inherited from parents.
Besides, cancer can also emerge as the result of errors that often occur as old cells divide or because of damage to the DNA caused by certain environmental or lifestyle exposures.
Certain substances like radiation, chemicals like asbestos are also known to cause this life-threatening disease. However, the cause of cancer can be different for different people, and the genetics of the cells also tends to change.
What are the ‘Drivers’ of Cancer?
There are three main types of genes, also known as the ‘drivers’ of cancer. Let’s have a quick look at these three categories.
- Proto-oncogenes: These types of cells are involved in regular cell division and growth. But, if the genes get genetically altered in any way, they can become oncogenes or cancer-causing cells.
- Tumor suppressor genes: These types of cells also control cell growth and division, and might lead to a divide in an uncontrolled manner, if there is a mutation in the gene.
- DNA repair genes: These genes are involved in fixing the damaged DNA, and cells who suffer a mutation in these genes tend to become cancerous.
However, other than these mutations, there are several other external environmental changes that also give rise to cancer.
To Sum Up
Cancer can look dangerous, and you can defeat it. There are loads of treatments that are available, and they can not only help you to prolong the lives of people but also help them control cancer. So, now that you know, you can understand cancer better and defeat it!