Genetic threat of cancer cells poses a challenge to scientists

Majority of cancerous diseases today are curable once detected early enough. Unlike cancer, any disease diagnosed at the end stage is very difficult to cure.
Dr. Joseph Kamugisha
Dr. Joseph Kamugisha

Majority of cancerous diseases today are curable once detected early enough. Unlike cancer, any disease diagnosed at the end stage is very difficult to cure.

Medical scientific research together with experts in cancer management has come with management solutions that are longstanding. The genetic course of cancer cells is well understood by some experts.

Just like HIV virus, cancer genes and cells manipulate the genetic line of normal cells. This makes it very difficult to cure completely. Even the most aggressive type of cancer is controlled once diagnosed early. The difficult question here is that drugs to manage patients in such situations are very expensive to buy and use.

Tricky genetic cause of cancer cells

Cancer disease develops when some cells in a part of the body start to rebel. They grow out of control and develop into abnormal cells.

Cancer cell growth is different from normal cell growth. The body is made up of trillions of living cells. Normal body cells grow, divide, and die in an orderly fashion. During the early years of a person’s life, normal cells divide faster to allow the person to grow. After the person becomes an adult, most cells divide only to replace worn-out or dying cells or to repair injuries.

The scenario is quite different for cancer cells. Cancer cells continue to grow and instead of dying out form abnormal cells that invade other tissues, something that normal cells cannot do.

This process of growth out of control and invasion of other tissues is what makes a cell to become cancerous.

Cancer cells damage key genetic component of the cell ‘DNA’. This also alters the function of cells as the DNA coding is destroyed and altered.  The cell of every living thing contains DNA that directs all its actions. In a normal cell, when DNA gets damaged the cell either repairs the damage or the cell dies.

For cancer cells, the damaged DNA is not repaired but instead the cells with damaged DNA out grow and make new cells that the body does not need. This is why the toxic cancer cells or newly formed cancer cells contain the same information as in damaged DNA.

People can inherit damaged DNA, but most DNA damage is caused by mistakes that happen while the normal cell is reproducing or by some factors from the environment. Most of the factors from the environment are lifestyle linked.

One of the environmental risk factors that damage DNA of the normal cell is cigarette smoking. There could be also other risk factors that affect the normal cell structure. A risk factor is any condition that exposes normal cells to toxic situations and different cancers have different risk factors. For example prolonged exposure to strong sunlight is a risk factor for development of skin cancer. However having a risk factor does not mean that an individual will get the disease because there other natural body defense mechanisms the body possess.  I have seen people who smoke in their entire lives but do not develop  lung cancer.

Many rebel cells or cancer cells form a tumor to create a strategic point of body invasion. They have a belief that once in isolation; body defense cells will easily attack them and eliminate them from the body. However some cancers like leukemia do rarely form tumors. They involve the blood and blood-forming organs that circulate through other tissues where they grow.

In metastasis, cancer cells often travel to other parts of the body where they form new tumors that replace normal tissue. This happens when a victim has not received medication to support immune cells against rebel cells.

Movement or growth of cancer cells cannot change its component or status. For example the prostate cancer that has spread to the bone is metastatic prostate cancer, not bone cancer. Lung cancer that has spread to the liver is still called lung cancer, not liver cancer. Likewise,

Cancers behave differently and respond to different treatments. This is why the treatment modality for every cancer is different.

However, not all tumors are cancerous. There are tumors known as benign. For they grow aimlessly, they only compress neighboring organs and tissues. Once removed by surgery, tissues and organs regain their normal positions and work appropriately. They do not invade other organs. This is why biopsy or tissues are tested from every growing tumor or outgrowth part of the body.

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