Tuesday 25 October 2016

More About Cancer


Cancer affects hundreds of thousands of people in the UK, health experts estimate one in two people will be diagnosed with the disease at some stage in their life.

There are 200 different types of cancer - the disease can affect bones, organs, the skin, the breast, the brain the bowel the bladder, the mouth, the liver and even the blood - to name just a few.

We even know what can increase the risk of getting it - smoking, drinking, diet and lifestyle.

But how many people really know what the disease is?

Cancer is when abnormal cells - caused by gene changes within the cells - divide in an uncontrolled way.

Normal genes make sure cells grow and reproduce in an orderly and controlled way but sometimes changes happen in the cell when it divides - called a gene mutation. The mutations sometimes mean that the cell does not understand its instructions any more and starts to grow out of control.

Experts say there have to be around six different mutations before a normal cells turns into a cancer cell - and there is rarely a single event or a single mutation.

Mutations in some of the genes means too many proteins are produced which trigger a cell to divide, or the proteins which tell a cell to stop dividing many not be produced.

Dr Áine McCarthy, Cancer Research UK's senior science information officer, said: "We know that mutations, which are mistakes in DNA, can lead to cancer.

"By altering a cell's genetic instructions, mutations can cause it to grow out of control and change its function.

"Most mutations develop over a person's lifetime and can be caused by chemicals like those found in tobacco smoke, while some others are passed on from one family member to another.

"We're now at a point where we understand more than ever before how cancer causing mutations arise, how they change a cell's function and, perhaps most importantly, how to develop drugs against them.

"With continued research we will identify more genetic faults that lead to cancer and how to target them."

While there are risk factors some people can also be genetically predisposed to cancer - and it can be hereditary.

How does cancer spread?

The place where a cancer starts in the body is primary called the primary cancer, but if it spreads to another part of the body the new area of cancer is called a secondary metastasis.

Some cancers may spread to more than one area of the body to form multiple secondaries.

Cancer cells canals be carried in the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other parts of the body where they can start to grow into new tumours.

Experts say that in order to spread, some cells from the primary cancer must break away, travel to another part of the body and start growing there. Cancer cells don't stick together as well as normal cells do.

Scientists said they are getting much better at understanding why cancer cells spread.

How does a cancer tumour grow?

Cancer cells grow and divide and will eventually create a tumour - which could contain millions of cells.

Cancer Research UK said: "As the tumour gets bigger, the centre of it gets further and further away from the blood vessels in the area where is is growing.

"So the centre of the tumour gets less and less of the oxygen and the other nutrients all cells need to survive."

Like healthy cells, cancer cells cannot live without oxygen and nutrients, so the cells send out signals which encourage new blood vessels to grow into the tumour - a process called angiogenesis.

Without a blood supply - experts say a tumour can't grow much bigger than a pin head.

Useful Resources:

Cancer Research




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