Cancer and its cell cycle
- Posted on- May 01, 2015
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The human body is composed of a billion cells. They are building blocks of our tissues and organs. Initially, we all are a single cell. That cell breaks itself into 2. Those 2 cells become four. Four cells become eight and the unending process goes on.
Cells are formed to perform specific tasks. For example, some cells will bind themselves to form a finger. Others will heal the skin when it is wounded. Overtime, cells grow and die but the replication process makes sure that new cells take place of the old ones.
In normal conditions, cells know which cells to join and stick to and when to start forming new ones and die. Each cell has a specific role and set of instructions in their genes. It is because of these instructions they are able to make the right number of fingers on our hand, for instance.
Each finger is covered with skin and a fingernail. If we cut our finger, skin cells will create new skin and heal the wound. Similarly, if we lose a fingernail, these cells will grow a new one. But the rules are clear for the cells they cannot create extra fingers if we lose one.
The role of the lymphatic system and hormones
Our hormones play a crucial role in body functioning and development. They carry messages to the cells, directing them to take correct action. These messages are carried by our blood via arteries, veins and capillaries. Our blood carries oxygen and glucose which are required to keep the cells alive. Once oxygen is fully utilized by the cells, our blood vessels carry away the waste products for the lymphatic system to clean up. The system washes away bacteria and germs.
Benign and cancerous growth
Cells behave abnormally when the instructions in their genes become damaged. Few abnormal cells do not harm as long as they are monitored by our immune system. When they multiply uncontrollably, forming lumps or growths, we suffer from one of the 200 dangerous diseases called cancer. This unstopped growth of cancer cells lead to the formation of tumors.
Benign Tumors: They have slow growth and don’t possess a threat to life. They are usually covered with normal cells and don’t spread to other parts of the body. In certain circumstances like if they grow a lot or become cancerous after a while, benign tumors pose a threat to life.
Cancerous Tumors: These tumors are life threatening because they grow faster than benign tumors and may spread to other parts of the body through the lymph system to form secondary tumors. Cancer cells don’t behave like normal cells once they start reproducing. They have no idea when to die or stop multiplying. They don’t stick together and might move through the lymphatic system to grow somewhere else in the body.
When a cancerous tumor has not spread to the surrounding tissues and contained in one area, the medical terminology for this is “carcinoma in situ.” If the tumor just stays there and doesn’t grow, it is not a threat unless it starts growing.
In order to grow, the tumor has to self-develop blood vessels to supply oxygen, glucose and hormones to the cancer cells. When it starts doing that, the process is known as angiogenesis. Once this happens, the tumor quickly starts to invade the surrounding tissues.
Live cancer cells are extremely dangerous as they can enter the bloodstream and move to other parts of the body leading to secondary cancer.
There are many treatments available to remove cancerous tumor or restrict its growth. Normally chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used worldwide. In some cases, cancers are removed by surgery. A consultation with an oncologist is the best source of knowledge.